Security Scoreboard Adds Analytics to Crowd-Sourced Product Reviews
January 26, 2011 Alex Woodie
IT decision makers who wonder how well a particular security product actually works in the real world may want to check out the website of Security Scoreboard, where crowd-sourced product reviews of commercial security products are on display for all to read. The Silicon Valley startup took a step up last week when it announced a new CEO, venture capital investment, and the addition of analytic capabilities designed to provide more tailored user recommendations.
Security Scoreboard (www.securityscoreboard.com) debuted in late January 2010 with plans to become a clearinghouse of product information and reviews for security software and solutions. The idea behind the website was to provide a place for people to share their personal experiences with security tools–the good, the bad, and the ugly–hopefully to the betterment of customers. In this way, one person’s particularly painful encounter with the installation of a certain intrusion detection system (IDS), for example, could become another’s warning to avoid that product. On the other hand, a truly pleasant experience with public key infrastructure (PKI) encryption solution could bode well for another’s foray into this class of product.
The notion behind the plan is really quite simple, says Dominique Levin, the former LogLogic executive who was named CEO of Security Scoreboard last week. “When we make purchases everyday as consumers, we rely heavily on peer reviews,” she says, citing such popular review sites as Trip Advisor , Yelp, and Amazon. “The most important thing that I look at when I buy something is, ‘What’s the experience of people who have already seen this movie or dined at this restaurant or read this book?’
“It’s really quite strange to find that something like this doesn’t exist for IT products, especially considering that IT products are much more expensive,” Levin tells IT Jungle. “Significant investments are being made by companies that rely on these products for the core of their business. The notion really is to bring the wisdom of the crowd, the end user, the true experience with those products, to the IT decision-makers.”
If all goes well, the organization could move beyond security, and provide crowd-sourced information on products outside of the security arena. But since the company’s founders–Levin and noted security expert Boaz Gelbord–are veterans of the security space, that was a logical starting point.
There is no fee to access to Security Scoreboard or to browse the website. Anybody can begin viewing product reviews by scrolling through the 27 different product categories, or by selecting a vendor’s name. To post a review or to rate a product, participants must register, which is also free. Posters can remain anonymous if they choose, but their identity must be established with Security Scoreboard.
Recently, the company added a new analytics engine that rates vendors in certain product categories. The functionality is getting good reviews from some early users of the website, including Jay Leek, the vice president of international security at Equifax. “The new analytics move Security Scoreboard in the direction from merely showing you what your peers are thinking to making true crowd-based recommendations about which vendor tools to use,” he states in a press release.
It’s critical for Security Scoreboard to remain neutral and unbiased when it comes to crowd-sourced product reviews and recommendations, Levin says. That’s one of the reasons the company relies on the community to police itself, and identify potentially malicious posters, which is the same technique that Wikipedia uses to keep its content accurate, but also impartial to any one participant’s view.
The idea is to create a viable community that is trusted and valued enough by users that they seek out Security Scoreboard to share their experiences. “You get a security cycle going where people want to give back. That’s very important,” Levin says, adding that the company is not considering giving users incentives to post their reviews. “You don’t want to skew your sample set and get people to contribute for the wrong reason.”
Revenue generation is not a priority at this point, as the company does not yet charge for anything. In the future, the website could work as a lead-generation engine for security software vendors through webinars, white papers, and reports.
“People who come to Security Scoreboard are looking for something,” Levin says. “It’s a community that’s short-listing vendors and solutions. So people who come to the site are there by definition because they are looking to buy something.”
This article has been corrected. Security Scoreboard was incorrectly referred to as Security Scorecard. The company’s website was also incorrectly listed. IT Jungle regrets the errors.