While films and TV programmes may give the impression that internet security work is glamorous, in reality, much of it is simply detail-orientated slog. Much of security simply consists of comparing and contrasting one or more sets of circumstances in order to spot differences that could be a sign of a problem. Ideally, you’d want to identify potential problems before they occurred or, at the very least, capture problems at an early stage before they did too much damage.
This is usually more easily said than done.
Big data has been a huge benefit to the world. It’s allowed organisations, both public and private, to get to know their customers better and so to serve them better. By serving their customers better, they also serve their stakeholders and shareholders better.
Everyone wins – except the security team.
From a security perspective, big data can be a challenge. The more data is generated, the more work security teams have to do to analyse it for threats and the more likely it is that, no matter how diligently they work, something will slip through the cracks. There’s also the possibility of false alerts being generated, which cause disruption for no reason.
Now, however, there may be a solution to these problems, enter Backstory.
Backstory is, essentially, a search engine for your internal data. It’s built upon internal tools developed at Google and, in fact, it could reasonably be described, as “Google but just for security”.
Like Google’s main search engine, what it does is actually nothing really new; the concept of using search engines to scan security data is already quite well established.
However, Backstory does do it better than anything that has been created up to now. In this case, “better” means that Backstory is well ahead of the competition in its ability to read vast quantities (meaning petabytes) of data quickly and accurately. It’s a cybersecurity expert’s dream.
As previously mentioned, Backstory is based on internal tools used at Google. In fact, Backstory is the creation of a company called Chronical, which was spun off from another company called X, both of which are siblings to the mighty Google under the aegis of parent company, Alphabet.
Google is a company that thrives on data and, over recent years, it has found itself increasingly mired in controversy over ethical issues, such as its ill-fated AI ethics board, which lasted for about a week before being closed down after the media raised concerns over its (lack of) ethics.
It is, therefore, entirely understandable, that potential customers might find themselves weighing up the advantages of using Backstory against the possibility of Google being allowed access to their data. To be fair, Chronical appears to be aware of these concerns and has addressed them directly by stating that it is owned by Alphabet but entirely separate from Google so any data provided to them will be off-limits to its sibling. Companies will have to make their own decisions on how much faith they place in this reassurance.