Is Sucuri for sale?

Contact: Ben Kolada

Just a month after its newfound partner VirusTotal was scooped up by Google, antimalware detection and remediation startup Sucuri may be next on the auction block. Word has it that the two-year-old company is attracting takeover attention. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given the growth potential of the website antimalware monitoring market and the strategic importance companies are placing these days on their online presences.

Sucuri provides a website malware detection product and associated remediation service meant to prevent customers’ websites from being blacklisted by search engines, namely Google. The company’s software scans websites for malware infection and alerts the customer. Sucuri then provides a cleanup service to remove the malware. As businesses continue to transition from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce models, such services will become increasingly important to growing sales, especially during the upcoming holiday season. Given its short lifespan, we suspect that the company is currently generating less than $10m in revenue.

No word yet on which companies may be looking to acquire Sucuri, but the list likely includes mass-market hosting vendors and large security firms. Like its competitors, Sucuri’s go-to-market strategy so far has been partnering with hosting companies, though it also sells directly to customers. The company lists Web host ClickHOST as a partner, as well as a half-dozen WordPress hosting and site design vendors. As for possible security suitors, the most likely acquirers that immediately come to mind are Proofpoint, Kaspersky Lab, Websense, Symantec, AVG Technologies or AVAST Software.

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Google grabs antivirus, antimalware scanning aggregator VirusTotal

Contact: Wendy Nather

Málaga, Spain-based VirusTotal, a company that provides free antivirus and antimalware aggregation services, announced that it has been acquired by Google, following the search giant’s acquisition last year of zynamics for code analysis and reverse engineering. No terms were disclosed, but given that VirusTotal is a labor of love by a team of seven engineers, we believe both sides got a good deal.

VirusTotal aggregates the results of scans from numerous antivirus engines and website scanners: a user can upload a file or submit a URL for scanning, and will receive any findings from the collection of tools. In return, VirusTotal gets to use the data from the upload and its results to add to its data store, which it will then share with all subsequent comers. The company has been firmly vendor-independent, and says it will continue to operate that way as a subsidiary of Google. (We do wonder, however, whether it plans to change the name of its company blog, currently titled ‘Inside VirusTotal’s Pants.’) The value to Google comes from VirusTotal’s position at the crossroads of antimalware research: the more people who use its service, the richer the data and intelligence will be.

The VirusTotal team makes very clear that its service is not intended to take the place of antivirus software, nor should it be used to compare commercial tools. And indeed, we can’t see it being a threat to the established antimalware vendors (in fact, the latest announced integration was Sucuri’s SiteCheck). It’s more an intelligence sink and source, and as a free service it has the best chance of collecting agnostic data that benefits the entire community. But that intelligence, together with its public and private API access, could also be used by Google internally in a number of ways, such as checking submissions to its Android store, or scanning sites before offering them as search results. The number of threat intelligence feeds is growing daily, and Google just picked up a meta-version of many of them for what we assume was a relatively low price – viewed from this angle, it was a smart move.

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