Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled Tuesday a new research project that, if it achieves its goal, will stop hackers from effectively deploying malicious software and ensnaring Internet users’ personal information and private communications.
The security team, dubbed Project Zero in an announcement from Google researcher Chris Evans, will be dedicated to stopping zero-day vulnerabilities (cyberattacks that target previously unknown computer application vulnerabilities) that make it possible to infect the computers used by human rights activists, academic researchers and everyday Internet users.
“Our objective is to significantly reduce the number of people harmed by targeted attacks,” Evans wrote.
“We’re not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers. We’ll use standard approaches such as locating and reporting large numbers of vulnerabilities. In addition, we’ll be conducting new research mitigation, exploitation, program analysis – and anything else that our researchers decide a worthwhile investment.”
The company said it’s already hiring top-tier researchers to curb the growing number of hacks that have proven the ability to subvert third-party software and burrow into users’ computers, storing months’ worth of information, depending on the situation.
The Project Zero announcement also comes just a few months after the discovery of the Heartbleed security bug, which researchers estimated affected 500,000 of the Internet’s secure Web servers that were certified by trusted authorities. The Heartbleed attack was so vast that the Tor Project, which purports to have the ability to help shelter users from almost any kind of monitoring, recommended that anyone seeking “strong anonymity or privacy on the Internet” to “stay away from the Internet entirely for the next few days while things settle.”
The name of the new project seems to take inspiration from the 1995 movie “Hackers,” in which the main character, named “Zero Cool” Murphy, seeks out the producers of a TV show called “Hack the Planet” to help him prevent millions of dollars from being stolen by an online security hole.