June 06, 2007, 10:27 AM — Security has been a bit of a black art at Google Inc. Unlike rival Microsoft Corp., which publishes detailed information on its monthly patches and has openly evangelized the steps it takes to secure software, Google has generally been quiet when it comes to talking about security and it has kept the team that keeps Google's Web sites secure under wraps.
Not so anymore. In April, Google researchers presented a paper on Web security at a technical conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, discussing the results of the company's ongoing effort to "identify all Web pages on the Internet that could potentially be malicious." A month later, Google started its first-ever security blog, and since then observers have had their first glimpse into the lives of Google's 100-person security team.
That team is managed by Douglas Merrill, Google's vice president of engineering and chief information officer, who spoke with IDG News Service recently. Merrill wouldn't say anything about Google's recent acquisition of secure browsing software vendor Green Border, but he did explain what Google gets from its security investments, and why his company believes that locking down the enterprise PC is not the way to go. Following is an edited transcript of the interview.
IDGNS: Google is trying to identify all of the malicious Web pages on the Internet. Can you tell me about that effort?
Merrill: We believe that by trying to find badware out there we can materially help our users. We can do it by flagging it in Toolbar, we can do it by using things like Stopbadware.org to try and help people address them. Information is power in this context, and our goal is to make all the information in the world accessible and useful.