Facebook Buys Cybersecurity Firm To Protect User Data

by CXOtoday News Desk    Aug 08, 2014

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Facebook is reportedly acquiring PrivateCore, a California-based startup that helps protect the computers and data centres that power Internet services. While the social networking giant did not disclose financial terms for the acquisition, it has said that PrivateCore’s technology can “validate and secure” server data and can protect computer servers from “persistent malware, unauthorized physical access, and malicious hardware devices.”

PrivateCore was founded in 2011 and raised $2.25 million in funding the next year from Foundation Capital. The company’s early users have included some of the large financial institutions and an NGO funded by the US government. The startup offered a solution called “vCage solution” which allowed PrivateCore to validate the integrity of remote servers, while also protecting the data in use. According to the company website, its software protected any application in use on commodity x86 servers, which would help combine the security that comes with an on-premise solution with the flexibility of the cloud.

“PrivateCore and Facebook share a vision of a more connected, secure world,” a Facebook spokesperson informed media. “We plan to deploy PrivateCore’s groundbreaking technology into Facebook’s server stack to help further our mission to protect the people who use our service.”

Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan wrote in a post on Facebook announcing the deal that PrivateCore’s vCage technology was the big draw for Facebook, as well as the PrivateCore team. “Their vCage technology protects servers from persistent malware, unauthorized physical access, and malicious hardware devices, making it safer to run any application in outsourced, hosted or cloud environments,” says Sullivan, adding “The team at PrivateCore is also made up of top-notch security veterans with a lot of experience.”

A TechCrunch report suggests that the team of PrivateCore included CEO Oded Horovitz, previously a senior engineer at VMware in the networking and security group, where he worked on vShield and VMSafe security products. Before that, he was at McAfee and Entercept. Co-founder Stephen Weis a technical director at AppDirect and a member of the applied security group at Google.

Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social network with 1.32 billion monthly users, has been ramping up its rollout of HTTPS encryption by default, and is also working to secure all its data centers with additional protections. Experts believe that the deal comes at a time when a growing number of high-profile data breaches are being reported every single day. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that a cyber-security firm uncovered about 1.2 billion Internet logins and passwords amassed by a Russian crime ring.

Experts believe Facebook seems to be on an acquisition spree with WhatsApp, Pryte and Oculus VR acquisition in the past months. Now all eyes are set on the company’s closing the $19 billion deal to acquire instant messaging app WhatsApp. Facebook however  said last month it has extended by a year and it will have to pay WhatsApp $ 1 billion in cash and $ 1 billion in stock options in case it fails to close the deal in the stipulated time.