Google sets up cybercrime-busting task force

After unearthing the Heartbleed flaw, Google sets up a research group dedicated to finding vulnerabilities in Web software

Google has set up an internal task force that will work to expose the activities and techniques of malicious Internet wrongdoers, aiming to cut down on the number of targeted cyberattacks.

"You should be able to use the Web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets or monitor your communications," wrote Chris Evans, a Google security researcher, in a blog post Tuesday announcing the initiative, called Project Zero. "Yet in sophisticated attacks, we see the use of 'zero-day' vulnerabilities to target, for example, human rights activists or to conduct industrial espionage. This needs to stop. We think more can be done to tackle this problem."

Earlier this year, a Google researcher unearthed Heartbleed, a serious flaw in the OpenSSL cryptographic library that left millions of websites open to attack.

Google plans to fund more of the kind of research that unearthed Heartbleed. The company has assembled a staff of researchers for Project Zero and plans to hire additional security experts who will be dedicated full time to the project.

"Our objective is to significantly reduce the number of people harmed by targeted attacks," Evans wrote.

The Project Zero team will investigate what techniques and technologies cybercriminals use. In addition, the researchers will investigate ways of shielding users from attacks, through techniques such as analyzing programs to pinpoint weaknesses.

One activity the group will undertake is searching for new bugs in software. Software flaws can be used by malicious attackers to gain illicit entry to a computer system. A zero-day vulnerability is one that is exploited by cybercriminals on the same day it is made public. In these cases, the maintainers of the software must scramble to ship a fix as soon as possible.

Project Zero will build an external database of all the bugs its researchers find and submit results to the companies or other parties that maintain the software.

Google is not alone in its efforts to build an Internet security response team. Hewlett-Packard's TippingPoint also collects information on software vulnerabilities. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security maintains the Common Vulnerability Scoring System, a widely used database for tracking vulnerabilities and assessing their potential severity.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GooglesecurityscamsExploits / vulnerabilitiesmalware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?