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Google acquires 'sandbox' technology for secure browsing

Dips toe into security market

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Google is acquiring GreenBorder, a Silicon Valley startup that helps protect web users against malware.

Word of the acquisition comes a week after Google inaugurated a blog devoted to online security, indicating the search king's growing interest in fighting the malware scourge.

GreenBorder claims to work with both Internet Explorer and Firefox to form a protective barrier to prevent malicious code from installing programs or accessing sensitive files on a PC. Web content is shunted into a secluded area - or "sandbox" - where files can be flushed away. This is similar to the way temporary files are disposed of once a user closes the application they are associated with.

The GreenBorder website is no longer offering downloads, but we were able to acquire the company's program just fine on Download.com. GreenBorder is pledging to support all existing customers.

It's unclear exactly how Google plans to use the new technology. The most likely option is to make it available as a download for users to run on their machines, in much the way Google users now use Google Desktop to manage and index files located on local hard drives. Under this scenario, Google could be seen to be elbowing its way into turf for desktop security that is now dominated by the likes of Symantec and McAfee. (Google might also add the software to its toolbar.)

Security has long been a high priority at Google. Unlike some of its competitors, the site already provides warnings when users click on links believed to lead to websites that attempt to install malware. It remains possible that Google will bake GreenBorder technology into its search engine to further insulate users from rogue URLs. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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