With all the talk of Facebook’s e-commerce experiments lately, it’s no surprise that the social media giant is making moves to beef up its security. The company just grabbed a Palo Alto-based secure server technology firm that could signal its online retailing plans are closer than we think.
Facebook has acquired PrivateCore for an undisclosed amount. PrivateCore describes itself as a venture-backed startup. Veterans from VMware and Google launched the company in 2012.
The company has developed a technology called vCage that promises to secure servers with software-based attestation, full-memory encryption, and operating system hardening. This provides a foundation for trusted computing on x86 servers, according to PrivateCore.
What Are Facebook’s Plans?
“Since the beginning, we have worked tirelessly on our technology to protect servers from malware threats, unauthorized physical access, and malicious hardware devices,” said Obed Horovitz, CEO of PrivateCore. “Working together with Facebook, there is a huge opportunity to pursue our joint vision at scale with incredible impact.”
Horovitz shared how Facebook plans to use vCage. The company, he said, will deploy the technology into the Facebook stack over time to help protect its members. Although he didn’t make any mention of e-commerce, such a security solution could be key in securing online transactions on the social media platform.
Facebook in July started testing a “buy button” that could help the company reach its revenue goals. The company said the new feature will help businesses drive sales through News Feeds on Pages. The opportunity is real. Worldwide business-to-consumer e-commerce sales will increase by 20.1 percent in 2014 to reach $1.5 trillion, the firm reported, and that growth is expected to come primarily from the rapidly expanding online and mobile user bases in emerging markets.
The Web Needs More Security
Joe Sullivan, head of security at Facebook, said in a Facebook post that he’s seen how much people care about the security of the data they entrust to online services. Facebook, he noted, finished implementing HTTPS encryption by default over a year ago and has been working to secure all data center traffic with additional protections. He said the PrivateCore acquisition flows in the same vein.
“Their vCage technology protects servers from persistent malware, unauthorized physical access, and malicious hardware devices, making it safer to run any application in outsourced, hosted or cloud environments,” Sullivan said. “The team at PrivateCore is also made up of top-notch security veterans with a lot of experience.”
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the acquisition. He told us he’s not surprised that Facebook would make this move. “Regardless of the speculation about e-commerce, this move is consistent with the effort of Google and other companies to add more security to Web traffic in the wake of government spying and hacking," he said.