Why is Facebook buying a cybersecurity company?

Facebook is acquiring the cybersecurity company PrivateCore in an announcement that comes days after a report that Russian hackers had accumulated 1.2 billion usernames and passwords worldwide. 

Regis Divignau
The log-on screen for Facebook is displayed.

Facebook has agreed to buy cybersecurity company PrivateCore in a move designed to strengthen the security of users' data. Coming on the heels of what has been called "the largest data breach known to date" by a group of Russian hackers who allegedly amassed more than a billion usernames and passwords worldwide, Facebook's acquisition could make people feel a bit more confident in the safety of their personal data online amid a time of heightened anxiety over cybercrimes.

PrivateCore, based in Palo Alto, Calif., raised $2.25 million in funding in 2012. The company's vCage technology protects computer servers against malware attacks by scrambling data on memory chips. 

While financial details of the deal have not been made public, Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan praised the deal in a Facebook post saying, "I’ve seen how much people care about the security of data they entrust to services like Facebook." He added, "Over time, we plan to deploy PrivateCore’s technology directly into the Facebook server stack." 

This sentiment was echoed by PrivateCore chief executive Oded Horovitz, who wrote in a company blog post that "Facebook has done more than any company to connect the world, and we want to use our secure server technology to help make the world’s connections more secure."

With major technology companies feeling the heat to safeguard customers' data, this announcement follows a trend of large tech companies taking actions to make the Web more secure.

On Wednesday, Google announced that it would begin granting more weight to encrypted websites in its search results, urging sites to adopt the more secure HTTPS encryption over the more common HTTP. As Mr. Sullivan noted in his post, Facebook completed its implementation of HTTPS by default last year. 

Similarly, last week Twitter acquired the password security start-up Mitro, also for an unspecified amount. And earlier this year the security vulnerability called "Heartbleed" affected hundreds of thousands of websites. 

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