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Google buys cybersecurity startup VirusTotal

Google buys cybersecurity startup VirusTotal
Google Inc has bought startup VirusTotal, picking up a fledgling but widely used cybersecurity player in a move that could beef up protection for its Internet services.

The acquisition of VirusTotal, which aggregates warnings on submitted files and websites from most antivirus solutions, including Intel Corp's McAfee andSymantec Corp , could significantly shore up the search giant's ability to weed out infectious content from Gmail, social network Google+ and even the pages it shows search users.

VirusTotal operates by accepting requests for virus checks, running every available protection software on the questioned document or pages, then distributing the results to security vendors.

Because those results include the documents and websites submitted, the service is considered a valuable source of information by the security industry about new threats and potential targets.

On Friday, the cybersecurity operator stressed that it will continue to run its service independently.

"VirusTotal will continue to operate independently, maintaining our partnerships with other antivirus companies and security experts," the startup said in a blogpost announcing the acquisition.

"We've worked hard to ensure that the services we offer continually improve. But as a small, resource-constrained company, that can sometimes be challenging."

Google, which boasts one of the largest hoards of cash and short-term securities in the technology industry, embarks on dozens of acquisitions every year, from its $12.5 billion of Motorola Mobility to tinier purchases intended to bring technology or talent into its fold.

It did not say how much it paid for VirusTotal. "Security is incredibly important to our users and we've invested many millions of dollars to help keep them safe online," the Internet firm said in a statement.

"VirusTotal also has a strong track record in Web security, and we're delighted to be able to provide them with the infrastructure they need to ensure that their service continues to improve."

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