Google Chromebooks: How Will They Impact the Antivirus Industry?

    May 12, 2011
    Chris Crum

Google has been touting the security features of its Chrome OS operating system since it was unveiled last year. Google hopes that both consumers and businesses will go for web-based computing model the operating system offers, which includes instant updates from Google as they are available.

Some people are talking about what this means for the online security industry – particularly makers of antivirus/anti-malware software.

“Chromebooks have many layers of security built in so there is no anti-virus software to buy and maintain,” Google says in a blog post. “Even more importantly, you won’t spend hours fighting your computer to set it up and keep it up to date.”

“Similar claims from Apple (that its computers are safe “right out of the box“) or from Oracle (that its machines are “unbreakable“) have only been invitations to the security industry to prove otherwise,” writes Andy Greenberg in a post for the Firewall security blog at Forbes. “But this time is different: Google may have built something so simple that it renders security add-ons–and the industry that sells them–irrelevant.”

Of course, for Chrome OS to render this industry irrelevant, it will have to sell very, very well. It still remains to be seen, not only whether or not Google’s OS will be a hit, but whether or not the entirely cloud-based computing experience is something the majority of consumers and businesses will more toward in the future.

Some bullet points Google gives in its Security Overview for Chromium OS (the open source OS on which Chrome OS is based):

  • Chromium OS has been designed from the ground up with security in mind.
  • Security is not a one-time effort, but rather an iterative process that must be focused on for the life of the operating system.
  • The goal is that, should either the operating system or the user detect that the system has been compromised, an update can be initiated, and—after a reboot—the system will have been returned to a known good state.
  • Chromium OS security strives to protect against an opportunistic adversary through a combination of system hardening, process isolation, continued web security improvements in Chromium, secure autoupdate, verified boot, encryption, and intuitive account management.

The overview has all of the technical details.

Chrome OS devices will become available on June 15. More on Google’s announcement from Google I/O this week here.