Interview with Angus Bradley (safedrop)
This interview is the fifteenth in a series of DoesWhat interviews. I put together an overview of the first week of interviews last month. Big thank you to Angus for the interview! You can follow Angus on Twitter.
How would you describe safedrop in under 50 words?
High security messaging. Or the long version: a way of sharing files and messages using the internet where every communication is encrypted, audited, and will self destruct when no longer useful.
What made you decide to start working on safedrop?
It really bugged me how hard it was to send sensitive data securely, that geeky dance of gpg or winzip that most people will never be able to do.
I was also really annoyed at the environmental waste I saw everywhere, where people had to send things on paper or CD because email wasn’t suitable. Now we have councils replacing 400 page print outs and a motorcycle courier with just one safedrop. Saving cash and carbon!
How did you come up with the name?
My wife and I came up with it over a bottle of Malbec. We had to buy the name from one of those crazy squatter sites, and I think it was about $1,000. But I like the name, and really wanted a short, snappy URL.
You use a quote by Bruce Schneier at safedrop, “The user’s going to pick dancing pigs over security every time.” How true to you believe this to be at the moment?
Isn’t that a great quote? I still think this is very true. We see it all the time with our Projectfusion dataroom service. When we charged for extras only a handful of folk ordered SMS token authentication or automatic IP restrictions, but nearly everyone paid a bit more for their logo.
That said, things are improving. In 2002 when we started, people just weren’t interested in data security. Now it’s finally becoming good practice to provide a protocol for sharing sensitive information, and that protocol is no longer the fax machine, it’s services like safedrop.
Which email service do you personally use day-to-day?
Gmail for regular emails, the search is just great, and I’m becoming addicted to the priority inbox. And of course safedrop for anything sensitive.
How long did it take you to put together the first version of safedrop and how much time has been spent on it since?
The very first version took 3 weeks, and was hacked up as a proof of concept. We couldn’t sell it (back in 2002 there was interest, but nobody really wanted to pay), and so the idea was shelved until late 2009, when we thought the market was ready. The next version was built robustly and took about 12 man months to build. Now we just keep iterating and making things better as we find out what people really want.
Who do you see as your target audience?
Small to mid sized business who have to handle and share sensitive data.
Who is your biggest competitor?
Probably Accellion, they’re well established, and have good momentum with larger companies. Their saas option isn’t as good as ours though!
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Getting the exact product fit is tricky. When we started we focused solely on security, it took a while to work out that read receipts were actually equally important for many people. Getting good feedback from people is hard, we need to work on that.
What has been the most technically challenging part of building safedrop?
Seamless upload/download with encryption at rest at all times was tricky, as nothing is stored unencrypted at any point. Making a site that looks nice in IE6, which many of our clients still use, has been mentally challenging – and has cost us loads of time!
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Well we have some big deals pending and of course I’m excited about new features. This year we’ll be doing some great things to make safedrop even more secure.
Can you convince the reader to start using Safedrop in under 50 words?
If you need to send anything sensitive, or need a guaranteed read receipt, you need safedrop. Simple to use, very secure, and to receive a safedrop you just need an email address.
Sending an email is like sending a postcard, sending a safedrop is like a message hand delivered by 007!
Finished reading? Check out safedrop!