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Google reaches for an application security blanket

While Google is in the news after coming under antitrust scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department due to its planned purchase of online advertising juggernaut DoubleClick, its purchase of GreenBorder attracted, well, a bit less attention.One of the worst-kept secrets at Google is its ambitious plans for its online application suite, which has been bolstered in recent years by purchases of services such as Writely (a word processor) and JotSpot (a WYSIWYG wiki). But concerns about data security, spyware and computer viruses continue to bedevil their efforts — at least from a public relations standpoint.

As the unofficial Google Operating System blog notes, GreenBorder creates a mini VPN session for each Internet session, therefore bulletproofing it from computer viruses, spyware and malware. The protected Web-based applications are displayed in a browser window surrounded (you guessed it) by a green border. When the session is over, users close the GreenBorder VPN session, and all cached information is removed. VARs will be able to respond to this ever-changing application security landscape by continuing to offer network security beyond the green border.

It’s not difficult to see why Google would buy GreenBorder. With GreenBorder now in the company’s software stables, Google can make a stronger case that the sensitive data contained within its online application suite is safe from cyber scoundrels. Google is betting that, with a little help from friends such as GreenBorder, it has solved the problem of network security for those who see online applications as the wave of the future.

Googlified notes that

Andrew Garcia called it “a novel approach to combating Microsoft Corp. Outlook- or Internet Explorer-borne malware.” And according to KeyLabs (now part of AppLabs), “GreenBorder was broader than and superior to that afforded by traditional anti-spyware and antivirus packages.”

Marketing bluster aside, the tie-up between Google and GreenMarket doesn’t deliver a death blow for Symantec, Norton and other computer security firms, or for VARs that provide comprehensive network security solutions. At least not yet. After all, GreenBorder is a Web-based application that won’t impact corporate users of Office 2007 who rely on antivirus software, spam filters and similar tools that protect their corporate data networks.

Matt Donnelly

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