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The Internet Protectors - Pat Bitton

Staff (Social Media Portal) - 02 March 2009

The Internet Protectors - Profiled

An interview with Pat Bitton, co-founder of The Internet Protectors

Social Media Portal (SMP): What made you start The Internet Protectors?

Pat Bitton (PB): We’ve been in and around the computer security business for close to twenty years, and it has become clear that with today’s widespread Internet use, more and more people need to understand about protecting their digital assets. Unfortunately, the avenues available to non-technical people to get advice and assistance in this area have not evolved beyond technical forums and a relatively small number of disconnected blogs/digital advice columns. The Internet Protectors is our response to that gap – a non-intimidating collaborative learning environment in which non-technical people can get advice from experts and peers in everyday language on all aspects of computer security in a single place.

SMP: What was the most challenging part of building the service?

PB: None of us had any experience of building a social network, so we stumbled a couple of times in choices of platform, design, and programmer sourcing, but experience and an initial advisory group pointed us in the right direction. An additional challenge for The Internet Protectors has been ensuring a secure online experience for our visitors – social networking platforms don’t tend to have security as their first concern, but we believe we’re on the right track now.
SMP: Who is your target audience and why?

PB: Our target audience is the ordinary computer user who knows they need to more about getting – and staying – protected online, but doesn’t know where to turn to get advice they can trust – and understand. These users may be at home, in school, or in small businesses – everyone who doesn’t have easy access to a knowledgeable resource.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to your site /service, and how do you do it now?

PB: Our initial user base has been invited in by our experts and others who helped us in an advisory capacity as we were building the site. We are now teaching ourselves the art of marketing on the social web as well as pursuing more traditional print media coverage.

SMP: What are your best and low moments of what you have been doing so far?

PB: High points:
(1) Getting funding to develop the site
(2) Signing up some really ace experts like Roger Thompson from AVG and Graham Cluley from Sophos and
(3) Declaring the site ready for launch, along with the compliments we received from the initial visitors

Low points:
(1) When our first design didn’t work out
(2) When our first choice of platform didn’t work out and
(3) When our first two programming teams didn’t work out

SMP: Now that the service has been launched; what do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities?

Challenges: Growing visitors and site activity, and monetizing the site – successful monetization requires a sizeable and growing user base.
Opportunities: Expanding the kinds of resources we can offer to users, improving ease of learning and knowledge building and expanding the language base on which we operate in order to be a truly global resource.

SMP: What are the next moves for The Internet Protectors?

PB: To continue building the reach, usefulness and resources of the site to a point where we can monetize the site sufficiently to invest in the next expansion (see opportunities above)

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media and networks?

PB: The social networking world still feels very fragmented, and I’d like to see individual networks like ours be able to more closely integrate into ‘dominant’ players like Facebook. True integration, not just ‘fan’ groups.

SMP: What’s going to be hot throughout 2008?
The economy is going to dominate everything.
SMP: How does this fit into plans at The Internet Protectors?

PB: We will probably need to spend even more of our unpaid time building the site than we were planning to, so any help SMP can give us with exposure will be much appreciated!

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

PB: Breakfast: Oatmeal, orange juice, coffee.
Lunch: Salad of watercress, Asian pear, celery, radish, walnuts, egg, bacon bits, and blue cheese.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

PB: Volunteered at the Sequoia Park Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo hallowe’en celebration for kids last Sunday

SMP: How many hours do you work a week?

PB: Around 60

SMP: If you weren’t running The Internet Protectors, what would you be doing?

PB: Well, I also have my own consulting business, which is what pays for the time I spend on The Internet Protectors. My consulting business focuses on helping small software companies to better communicate with the world around them – their staff as well as their customers and prospects.
SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

PB: I recently returned from a two-week birding trip to Peru – travelling the coast south of Lima, up to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and down into the Amazonian rainforest.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

PB: Pour the coffee and power up the computer

SMP: If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

PB: Super-powerful vision so I could see the world the way birds do.

Read more about The Internet Protectors here

The Internet Protectors has its own page on Facebook, MySpace and a group on LinkedIn.

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