A new team at Google is aiming to be the cybersecurity superheroes of the Internet.
They're looking to exterminate those nasty computer bugs that let hackers and government spies sneak into our computers -- not just for Google, but for everyone.
The special team is called Google Project Zero. And whether you use products by Adobe(ADBE), Apple(AAPL, Tech30), Microsoft(MSFT, Tech30) or software most people don't know by name, the team is working on it.
"You should be able to use the Web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets or monitor your communications," Chris Evans, a Google researcher who's leading the new effort, wrote in a blog post.
Project Zero is made up of some of the world's smartest, well-intentioned hackers. They spend their days poking at holes in computer code we all rely on -- and making sure those holes get patched.
The Project Zero name comes from the very types of bugs they're trying to eliminate: "zero day" vulnerabilities, which are never-before-seen software flaws that hackers love to exploit.
When Google researchers discover flaws in another company's software, they'll quietly alert that firm. If nothing gets done soon, they'll go public with it on their blog. And if the bug is particularly critical, they'll put extra pressure on the company and try to develop an alternative themselves, Google(GOOG) told Wired, which first reported the story.
By creating Project Zero, Google is helping shoulder a burden presently carried by nonprofits. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation spot digital weaknesses that threaten online safety and develop privacy tools. But now those volunteers have help from a superpower -- with super money.
"The level of investment and resources, access to Google infrastructure and knowledge takes it to a completely different level," Ghosemajumder said.
Also, putting together a ragtag team of coding geniuses is a relatively small cost for Google compared to what it's getting.
"This gives Google the reputation of taking security seriously," said Jay Kaplan, an ex-NSA analyst who now leads the cybersecurity firm Synack.