Debunking SecurityNewsDesk's Traffic Shootout Results

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 12, 2011

Over the past two months, UK publication SecurityNewsDesk has released traffic 'shootout' results that purport to show their site is in first place in the UK 'security internet communications market'. This is a weak analysis likely skewed by the company's actions itself. In this note, we break down the key problems and issues in such rankings.

SecurityNewsDesk bases its claim solely on Alexa traffic rankings - widely acknowleged as an extremely unreliable and easy to game system for sites in niche categories like security.

Alexa traffic rankings are based on individuals who voluntarily install the Alexa toolbar to track the websites they visit. A very small percentage of Internet users install this toolbar. This is especially problematic for sites, like security, that receive relatively few visits (here's a good explanation of this). The margin of error becomes very high. The results are also skewed by employees of the website using the toolbar (e.g., this blogger [link no longer available]). Because of the structural issues with Alexa, there are actually services that can boost a site's Alexa ranking [link no longer available] simply by having their associates go to a website on a PC with the Alexa toolbar installed.

Looking at SecurityNewsDesk Alexa profile, a number of issues stand out.

  • The most obvious is the fake review [link no longer available] submitted by a SecurityNewsDesk employee who deceitfully exclaims "just found this great new launch site." The reviewer has 2 total reviews, both for properties owned by this company. This is a good general indicator that the company is actively seeking to boost its Alexa results. [Update: The company now claims that these reviews were not approved for release - a 'rogue' employee'.]
  • Alexa's results say that visitors to SecurityNewsDesk view nearly triple the number of pages that Info4Security do (6.2 vs 2.2). That the numbers are so much higher is a yellow flag to us that employees or friends of SecurityNewsDesk are impacting Alexa's rankings.
  • According to the other 'major' website traffic analysis providers (Compete, Quantcast [link no longer available] and Google Ad Planner) SecurityNewsDesk does not have enough traffic to even qualify for ranking.

Independent traffic rankings are notoriously hard to accomplish especially for smaller sites. Because of this, many tricks or tactics are used to skew results or boost rankings (see a review of SourceSecurity and their approach as an example).  SecurityNewsDesk is not the first and they will certainly not be the last to engage in such a campaign.

Why This Matters

The impact is split between regular users and potential advertisers:

  • For regular users, this likely does not matter outside of perception of who is the 'biggest'. It should matter that sites that claim to provide news and information engage in deceptive practices in analyzing any market.
  • For advertisers (i.e., manufacturers), this matters a lot as readership level is a key determiner of pricing. Obviously, we do not accept advertisements. However, when we look to advertise our own services on other sites, we always want unedited reports exported [link no longer available] from services that track direct requests to the website itself (Google analytics is the most well known of the many providers) rather than toolbar based tracking that can easily be gamed. Secondly, we discount traffic from search engines as it is generally lower quality traffic than direct visitors who are more likely to trust the site.
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Don't Deceive. Lessons From Scott Schafer on Mar 20, 2020
Deception is bad. We can learn some important lessons from Scott Schafer, a...
Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco Face Mask Detection Shootout on Jun 19, 2020
Temperature tablets with face mask detection are one of the hottest trends in...
Faked Convergint Fever Camera 'Expert' Marketing on Jun 16, 2020
Convergint touts they are "THERMAL CAMERA SOLUTION EXPERTS" while faking...
Anixter Runs Fake Coronavirus Marketing Using Shutterstock Watermarked Images on Jul 24, 2020
Coronavirus faked marketing is regrettably commonplace right now but Anixter...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Verkada Falsely Claims "First Native Cloud-based Access Control and Video Security Solution" on Jun 18, 2020
Verkada's false claims continue, this time to be the first native cloud-based...
Uniview Deep Learning Camera Tested on Jul 14, 2020
Uniview's intrusion analytics have performed poorly in our shootouts. Now,...
Verkada: "IPVM Should Never Be Your Source of News" on Jul 02, 2020
Verkada was unhappy with IPVM's recent coverage declaring that reading IPVM...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's reporting...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how...
Worst Camera Manufacturers 2020 on May 06, 2020
Which camera manufacturer have integrators had the worst experience with in...
Sunell Panda Cam Body Temperature Measurement Camera Tested on May 14, 2020
Sunell is far less well known than its gargantuan domestic competitors Dahua...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
IronYun AI Analytics Tested on Feb 17, 2020
Taiwan / US startup IronYun has raised tens of millions for its "mission to...
FLIR Markets Windows Temperature Screening, Violates IEC And Causes Performance Problems on Jul 17, 2020
FLIR, one of the largest thermal screening manufacturers, is marketing...

Recent Reports

Huawei HiSilicon Shortage Impacts Surveillance Manufacturers on Aug 14, 2020
Huawei acknowledged problems and challenges for its HiSilicon chip business,...
Final Rule Does Not Expand Hikvision Dahua Blacklist on Aug 14, 2020
The final White House rule (200.216) has been added and contrary to the...
Taiwan Lilin NDAA Compliant Cameras Tested on Aug 13, 2020
Taiwan-based manufacturer Lilin is taking direct aim at Dahua and Hikvision...
White House Expands Dahua Hikvision Blacklist To Federal Funding [Final Rule Reverses] on Aug 13, 2020
The White House is expanding the NDAA to blacklist anyone who "uses" banned...
Actual Coronavirus Testing Options Examined on Aug 13, 2020
Fever cameras have emerged as an indirect and flawed way to test for...
Video Analytics Online Show September 2020 Opened - Axis, Avigilon, Bosch, BriefCam, Genetec, Milestone + 30 More on Aug 12, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show will feature 35+ Video Analytics companies...
The German Company Powering Many China Temperature Tablets (Heimann) on Aug 12, 2020
Many fever tablet suppliers market German-made Heimann thermal sensors while...
Salesforce Drops Dahua and Hikvision on Aug 12, 2020
Salesforce has dropped Dahua and Hikvision as customers, forcing the two mega...
Access Control Course Fall 2020 - Register Now on Aug 12, 2020
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry....
Genetec CEO Declares "We Don't Negotiate Payment With Patent Trolls" on Aug 11, 2020
Are patent trolls like terrorists? Genetec's CEO is coming out strongly...
Hanwha AI Analytics Camera Tested on Aug 11, 2020
Hanwha has released their Wisenet P AI camera, adding person and vehicle...
Alabama Schools Million Dollar Hikvision Fever Camera Deal on Aug 11, 2020
The Baldwin County, Alabama public schools purchased a $1 million, 144-camera...
Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
HID Releases VertX Replacement Aero on Aug 10, 2020
HID is replacing two established and broadly supported types of access...
NDAA Compliant Video Surveillance Whitelist on Aug 10, 2020
This report aggregates video surveillance products that manufacturers have...