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Alphabet and Amazon want to protect you from hackers. That’s a blessing and a curse

January 25, 2018

Big tech companies are plunging deeper into the cybersecurity business.

The news: Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has launched a new cybersecurity firm called Chronicle, which is spinning out from its X research lab. Amazon has just acquired Sqrrl, a security startup launched by ex-NSA staffers, and reportedly wants to offer more security services to customers of its AWS cloud.

The blessing: Giant tech companies have hoovered up some of the brightest minds in security to protect their digital crown jewels—so customers using their cloud services can benefit from this know-how and the firms’ tech infrastructure.

The curse: There’s already plenty of concern over the hold that big tech companies have on our data, and trusting them with security could make businesses even more dependent on them. Bruce Schneier, a security expert, has highlighted the risks of what he calls “feudal security.” Entrepreneurs may also think twice about launching security-focused startups if they fear being crushed by the tech behemoths. That would deprive the world of some badly needed new ideas.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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