Google (GOOG, GOOGL) is finally sounding off on its blockbuster $5.4 billion acquisition of cybersecurity firm Mandiant, expressing the extent of the company’s ambitions in the sector.
The mega-deal was all about strengthening Google’s capabilities in detecting cyber threats – something Mandiant has become well-known for, said Google Cloud Chief Information Security Officer Phil Venables at a press conference yesterday.
“I want to emphasize that this is adding more frontline threat intelligence,” Venables said. “When you look at what we’ve got existing at Google, which includes very complementary things from VirusTotal and our other threat intelligence capabilities, bringing that together really gives us this kind of end-to-end security operations stack. Again, Google Cloud is already strong when we think about how we analyze data and put it in context, and that only gets stronger with Mandiant.”
A response to a changing environment
Venables was very clear that Google Cloud’s ambitions in cybersecurity are massive, but on some level, the size of the deal already said it all. The acquisition is Google’s second-largest ever, surpassed only by the company’s $12.5 billion buyout of Motorola ten years ago. The more than $5 billion the company spent on Mandiant overshadows even what Google shelled out for Fitbit, which it bought for $2.1 billion.
The timing of this deal also wasn’t an accident – it’s a response to a changing environment. The cyber threat landscape is evolving and expanding rapidly and there are two key reasons why, according to Hari Ravichandran, CEO and founder of identity protection company Aura.
First, we are more connected than we have ever been. Whether you are talking about the enterprise or the American home, every system is online and therefore open to cyber criminals. Second, cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever. With access to the same tools, from the cloud to AI, that has transformed the enterprise, professional cybercriminals can create attacks that can fool and evade even the most diligent enterprise or consumer.
Seen as a positive signal
The deal was fundamentally seen as a positive signal by the rest of the cybersecurity space that one of Big Tech’s most storied names is taking the increasingly risk-laden cyber landscape seriously, said Andrew Rubin, CEO, and co-founder of Illumio, a zero trust-focused cybersecurity company.
“Google Cloud’s cyber focus shows that security is a top priority for their business as a whole,” he told Yahoo Finance. “It’s promising to see industry titans commit in this way to safeguarding cloud environments from today’s evolving threats.”
It’s also not an accident that the deal’s coincided with Google’s increased commitment to its cloud business and enterprise customers. The reality is, the more secure your enterprise business is, the more valuable it is, said Ritu Bhargava, President and Chief Product Officer of SAP CX/CRM.
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“Now it’s non-negotiable for any enterprise to have security and compliance as the number one priority,” she said. “Companies just won’t have a seat at the table if they aren’t thinking about security first because it’s a business imperative.”
Experts agree: If Google wants to build out its cloud business, tripling down on security is essential.
“The enterprise is only as secure as its least secure employee,” said Ravichandran.
The potential for more deals to come
The cybersecurity space is one that’s generally been deal-heavy, so looking ahead we’ll likely see Big Tech, investors, and private companies strike more deals in the sector, said Ravichandran.
“Historically, we’ve seen fairly regular M&A in the cybersecurity industry,” he said. “In September alone, there were nearly 40 cybersecurity company acquisitions, which signals that there is still a lot of opportunity when companies identify a strategic fit.”
Rubin agrees, adding that these deals will grow even more important as cybersecurity becomes an increasingly indispensable part of business strategies and outlooks.
“The Google and Mandiant deal is the latest in a string of high-profile, billion-dollar cybersecurity acquisitions over the past few years, and it certainly won’t be the last,” he told Yahoo Finance. “If Google is willing to go ‘all in’ on cyber, clearly their customers believe security is core to everything.”
Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks.
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