maggiesilva
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Internet Safety for Seniors

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Earlier this year, my mom received a call from who she assumed to be her bank. The caller told her that her account information had been hacked online, and to prevent against fraud, she should provide them with all her bank account numbers, usernames, and passwords, across all accounts. She was getting ready to provide these scammers with all her financial information, when I happened to call her. She told the scammers she would call them back, and she accepted the call from me and told me what was going on. Luckily enough, I had called at just the right time, and her accounts remained safe.

The FBI estimated that, in 2020, seniors lost $1 billion in cybercrimes, and that’s only the crimes that were reported. The true number could be even higher. As more and more becomes accessible through the Internet, keeping your parents offline just isn’t an option— the only option is equipping them with the tools to remain safe from those who deliberately target them. I want to create a platform that helps seniors stay safe online. The platform would include educational components and trainings, as well as web monitoring alerts that sync with their various accounts: financial, social, etc. They can assign loved ones as contacts to help monitor those accounts, and when there is suspicious activity, both seniors and their loved ones are flagged. 

I see the target market being the loved ones of seniors, and the market opportunity being $1 billion and growing each year. As the population continues to age and technological changes grow increasingly, so will those who try to profit off of those changes. 

I am looking for feedback on this idea as well as for potential partners. Do you want to join me in helping make a safe Internet for all?

15 Comments

  1. I love this idea, and I would definitely use it. One thing I am curious about would be protecting elders from family abuse as well– what are your thoughts about security measures between elders and the loved ones they assign to help monitor their accounts?

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  2. Super interesting idea. I’m passionate about this, and I’d love to add some perspective. I wonder if the training or program can include components of language that elders and their loved ones can look out for– e.g., bad grammar, spelling, etc. Though you’d have to be careful to make sure it’s filtering out bots and not non-native English speakers and what not. I would like to weigh in and help you with this, if you could use some help. I’ll reach out!

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  3. Hi Maggie. I applaud you for your passion and commitment to cybersafety, but I do think this website can be used by everyone, not just seniors. As someone who is now getting to the age people refer to as a “senior,” I’m noticing how everyone tries to market to us as some kind of unusual population, like you turn 65 and all of a sudden need new websites, clothes, and technology! I feel exactly the same as I did 5 years ago, and I become a little suspicious when companies try to market to me in a different way just because some time has passed.

    I do think this is an interesting concept, but I think it can be applicable to everyone. I was a teacher for 20 years, and I saw my students being extremely lax about their privacy and finances, sharing just about anything with each other. I think the importance of cybersecurity and financial privacy can be for everyone, and I encourage you to keep that in mind.

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    • Hello! Thank you for your conscientious and thoughtful feedback. I can definitely see where you are coming from.

      Part of my challenge when coming up with this idea was thinking about target audience. The way I think about it is that this tool cannot be everything for everyone, so how do I scope small and build? Who should I focus on first and then how might I expand?

      I want to be sensitive and mindful though as I do this, as my intention is never to make anyone feel “marketed to” or disrespected, so I really do appreciate your feedback. I am going to put more thought into my marketing and language plan so I can ensure that I serve a population who needs this tool without excluding or alienating anyone. Thank you!

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    • This answer was edited.

      Kaligold, I understand where you are coming from, and I don’t want to speak for Maggiesilva, but I think my daughters would see the label of “helpful technology to protect seniors from financial crime” and that would help them think of me. As much as we don’t think so, that’s how everyone else perceives us 🙂
      I actually think that could be very beneficial from a marketing standpoint as it would cause children of seniors to stand up and pay attention to this.
      Weston

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  4. Super interesting idea. For the education component, I’d be interested to see where you can leverage existing resources online. AARP has surprisingly good resources for teaching seniors about technology: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/

    I’d also emphasize the importance of repetition and muscle memory as it comes to habit-building. Your education component may need to move a little more slowly and emphasize application of newly-learned knowledge.

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  5. You may want to look into banking security. To properly inform loved ones, the platform would likely import information from banking and investment accounts real-time, but there may be another hurdle in providing that information outside of the main user.

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  6. Thank you all so much for the feedback and for the partnership! I really appreciate it as @carrieloh and I move forward with this idea.

    At this point in our journey, we’re thinking about reducing the scope of this project to focus on our competitive advantage: the core idea of the platform with web monitoring and security alerts around cybersecurity for seniors. The educational components are not our strength, and we’re considering leaving that for another stage and/or partnering with an organization that does that as their core focus. Any feedback on that approach?

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  7. I love this idea and would love to help anyway you need ( besides money) I have none

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