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Nathaniel Robinson, Trustworthy: “digital transformation is happening to all of us, whether we like it or not”

Our lives are in many ways operated online, with documentation, banking details, and private information stored on the Internet. However, organizing and protecting that information is a struggle - especially, on an individual level.

Managing data online might seem rather daunting, with a variety of dangers and hacking possibilities involved. In addition, many Internet users might be unaware of what makes their chosen software secure, being either forced to store sensitive data physically or risk potential exposure. Thankfully, there are tools that allow us to effectively manage and protect personal documents, passwords, and much more. As such, Trustworthy is a system that supports individuals by safely storing their information in one place.

Nathaniel Robinson, Founder and CEO of Trustworthy, talked to us about how Trustworthy can assist families in securing their most important documents, as well as about the current cybersecurity environment.

How did the idea of Trustworthy come about? What has your journey been like since?

Some friends and I were lamenting the process of setting up living trusts for our families. It took months (sometimes years), cost thousands of dollars, and at the end, we got some nice burgundy binders. You sign many documents, fund the trusts, and place the binders in a filing cabinet where they are forgotten until someone passes away. It’s a broken process - valuable to your estate and heirs but not that valuable during your life. The problem we were all facing was that we’d forgotten what was in these trusts and couldn’t decipher them years later. They’d become out of date as our lives evolved. We wondered how we could get more value out of these important documents.

We thought that software might help, but as we talked to more people, we realized that legal considerations were just a piece of the pie. People were struggling to effectively and securely manage all of their important information - ID’s, money, property, passwords, insurance, taxes, legal, emergency Instructions, business, medical, and their family archive.

We built The Trustworthy Family Operating System® to address these needs more effectively. It’s both a very tangible product and in many ways a cause for good. We get to work on something that helps families have access to – and utility and agency from - their important information. One thing we’re very proud of is that you can get more value from Trustworthy in 15 minutes than a decade of gathering your legal documents in those burgundy binders. Legal documents are important but don’t start there.

You describe yourself as a Family Operating System. Could you tell us more about it?

Digital transformation is happening to all of us, whether we like it or not, and it’s shocking that consumers don’t have a system of record to help them manage their digital lives. This problem will increase as the amount of information increases.

So we built Trustworthy. It’s an online service that gives you and your family a complete view of your important information so that you have it when you need it, throughout life, and across generations.

It helps you personalize and assemble your information quickly and easily. It’s personalized for your family, and we guide you through the process or build it for you.

It helps you connect it to your trust graph and assigns each person a role so they can participate, help, and discover Trustworthy for themselves.

  • It reminds you when something needs attention or is about to expire so you can keep your system current and save time and money in outages.
  • It shows you what you have and what you don’t and makes recommendations to make your system better.
  • It’s secure and private because our business model is wholly aligned with protecting and preserving your information.

We call it the Family Operating System®, and it’s patent-pending.

How does Trustworthy differ from other popular document storing methods?

We started by trying to build a DIY Family Operating System using some common digital tools like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and others, but we found they all fell short in the same areas:

  • They all start with a blank page which can be debilitating because you don’t know where to begin.
  • There’s no partnership, direction, or help. Managing and taking control of your important information is hard, and we don’t believe you should do it alone.
  • These existing digital tools are essentially “dumb” containers. They don’t have any context for the information you put in and don’t offer any value back on that information.
  • Document systems don’t come with classification systems, so users have to invent them, and everyone else needs to understand and comply with your naming convention.
  • Sharing via resources like Documents is absolute. This means if I share something with you, you see it all, I can’t share some now and some later. This is really important in estate management.

Trustworthy solves all of these challenges with an intelligent Family Operating System that empowers you to secure your information, collaborate with family and service providers, and keep your information updated. We also help you improve and optimize your information so that it gets better over time.

Our business model is also wholly aligned with protecting and preserving your information. Because of this, we provide secure, private access to - and agency from - your information, so you can use it when you need it.

Out of all pieces of personal information, which documents are most sought after by cybercriminals?

The typical ones that you hear most about are the ones that have some monetary value, such as IDs like driver’s licenses, birth certificates and passports, as well as credit cards and logins to financial institutions.

What does the growing popularity of cloud solutions mean for threat actors? Will carrying out cyberattacks become more challenging?

It’s an ever-evolving situation. We’re already seeing this play out with government agencies and companies of all sizes dealing with breaches and ransomware attacks. In response, we’re also seeing information security technology evolve, and consumers will benefit from this evolution. People also now understand that security is important in the online world and are adopting password managers like our partner, 1Password. Password recipes are also becoming more stringent, biometrics are increasingly everywhere, and password-less login is closer to reality. Two-factor authentication is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

These all help. Cloud providers now know that the bar is higher than ever before. In our case, we have an even higher bar for member information security because of the nature of our business. It’s why we invest so much time in architecture, compliance, and third-party validation like the SOC2 compliance we just completed.

How do you think the pandemic influenced peoples’ attitudes towards cloud solutions?

The pandemic is just one of the moments that cause people to think about family safety and better access to information. We’re all now thinking about where to keep our COVID-19 passports, and most of us have probably already experienced a moment where we’ve needed to use it to gain access to something that simply allows us to enjoy life.

Other moments happening right now include:

  • Global warming, which is increasing disasters like floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. All of these are emergencies that cause us to think about safety. Unfortunately, we’ve talked to many people affected by these disasters, and we’ve learned how devastating they can be when it comes to the safety of your family’s most important information.
  • Digital transformation is rapidly impacting every part of our lives. Our information is now spread across hundreds of digital services. “It’s all over the place” is a phrase we hear from customers every day.
  • The Great Wealth Transfer is another moment that we hear about a lot as our wealthiest generation, Baby Boomers (representing $58 trillion in assets), are thinking about transitioning their wealth as they retire.

And there are those regular moments that impact some aspect of our information landscape. Changing jobs, buying or selling a house, getting married, getting divorced, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one. Information is a critical part of all those regular life moments.

While both individual users and companies are rapidly making the switch to cloud solutions nowadays, and are there any risks that might be overlooked in the process?

We are deep into the information age, so it’s not surprising that the way we create, use, and benefit from information is constantly evolving. Cloud solutions are the latest iteration of client/server or mainframe and dumb terminal relationship.

And there are always risks as technology evolves. Who isn’t scared every time they see the newest enhancements to the Boston Dynamics robot dog? We hear from people who don’t want their information in the cloud, but we also hear from those who understand the convenience, utility, and agency you get from a central view of your important family information. There’s a whole spectrum of acceptance here, and that’s fine. You just have to decide where you fit on the spectrum.

The other facet here is that some or all of your information will inevitably wind up in the cloud if it hasn’t already. Finding a way to benefit from it is to your advantage.

Apart from cloud services, what other security services do you see trending in 2022?

One of the movements we’re most excited about is password-less login. There are a number of companies working on this, but we think it will be a big step forward in ease of use and enhanced security. We also see a lot of promise with biometrics, and the fact that airports and airlines are increasingly using biometrics is exciting. And, we think that the very nature of a platform like our Family Operating System demonstrates how cloud security is evolving. As I mentioned earlier, having the ability to share discrete pieces of information digitally, as opposed to sharing entire documents, greatly increases the security a platform like ours can provide.

And finally, what’s next for Trustworthy?

We’re really focused on providing the most valuable services for consumers to secure and optimize their important information. Helping them to address these needs first will open up opportunities for us to help them in so many other ways. Right now, the best thing we can do is to just keep listening to our members, so we can find the most elegant and effective ways to address their needs.

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