By: Avery Gordon, D.C. Community Cultivator
Lavinia Popinceanu was harassed and cyber-stalked by a graduate school classmate for three years. Despite changing phones and laptops, the cyber-stalking did not end until one year after she obtained a stalking no-contact order. Because she was not protected from this harassment even at the legislative level, Lavinia wished she had a cyber security solution available for her mobile devices similar to the security solutions that existed for laptops. Lavinia was able to turn her experience into i4Spy, a cyber security application of her own invention.
“We are not protected at the legislative level”
i4Spy is a cyber security solution that protects consumers from spyware, specifically on their mobile devices. A user will pay a monthly subscription to use i4Spy. The application will detect, neutralize, and remediate the attempted attack. However, Lavinia acknowledges that her product is larger than just spyware.
“It’s about abusive individuals attempting to control their respective targets in any way – we are addressing the electronic form of abuse. I hope my solution will provide temporary aid for those affected, but I also hope higher awareness will lead to enacted legislation and policy to prevent this form of harassment. We are not protected at the legislative level.”
“I am ready to take on that burden”
Lavinia has studied the problem of cyber-stalking and harassment from a legislative, psychological, and technological standpoint. She believes that harassment and cyber stalking also carry a stigma, which results in victims staying silent and not reporting the abuse they have been subjected to – however, Lavinia is ready to take on that burden.
She acknowledges that even though “consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their vulnerability, there has not yet been a significant trigger event to push consumers to actively seek protection for their mobile devices.” As i4Spy makes their application available for download on their website and Android devices in the fall, this is a challenge Lavinia is prepared to take on alongside strategic partners.
“We are working with others concerned with harassment, even complementary service providers – such as alert devices. We will hopefully be able to provide the metadata captured by i4Spy to policy makers, to show that the problem is real and the incidents are significant, in order to encourage increased protection at the legislative level.”
i4Spy Creating a Hummingbird Effect
Lavinia thoughtfully chose the hummingbird as i4Spy’s logo with the hummingbird effect in mind. For those unfamiliar with the term, the hummingbird effect alludes to innovations in one field effecting unintentional changes in another. In this case, Lavinia acknowledges that “the technologies used in the intelligence community are now available to anyone and are being deployed on unsuspecting individuals, with devastating effects on their lives.”
Lavinia hopes i4Spy will be a company that will give way to different types of socially-minded cyber security solutions, creating a hummingbird effect of her own.
Brace for a Rough Going
Lavinia is grateful that her participation in the SEED SPOT community has enabled her to “build i4Spy in such a way that allows for the company’s mission to be at the core of what we do.” She hopes aspiring entrepreneurs won’t pick the easy idea, but will instead pursue the innovation that will have a more lasting impact on society: “Brace for a rough going, it isn’t easy. But if you succeed, it will be so rewarding to know your innovation has had a significant impact.”