Imagine that your security is perfect and that no one else can access your accounts or confidential information. And suddenly the unthinkable happens: you have an accident. How will your loved ones do when they need to cross the security barriers to take care of your digital assets?
Surely, having implemented all the tips to protect your valuables, taking measures that allow a third party to access them will seem a contradiction. Much of the advice to let an administrator handle your affairs, either temporarily or permanently, is seen as a misstep if we think about cybersecurity. But in reality, the best steps to take to gain access to a Trusted Administrator are slight modifications to the techniques you initially used for comprehensive security.
There are four things you should consider to leave your security secrets in good hands.
1. Risk assessment
You certainly have a list of assets somewhere, either in mind or in writing, which lists all the machines and accounts under your care. This list will be essential for your “In Case of Emergency” kit. Be sure to include all devices (do not forget the administrator accounts for the modem and router, which are usually ignored), email accounts, services such as power and water, financial institutions, services in The cloud and the servers you use to provide hosting services to third parties.
Once you have the asset list, choose an emergency contact. This contact will be the trusted person to take care of all your digital assets; can be a family member, friend or legal representative, such as a lawyer.
If you have written your will, you will surely have an attorney who knows where to find it and how to manage your assets. Some online services, such as Google, Facebook and Instagram, allow you to designate an emergency or inherited contact that can manage your accounts. Also, many password management applications allow you to establish an emergency contact (which can be useful in less severe situations, for example if you ever need to reset a lost master password).
File folders in a filing cabinet
This is the point where you need to take a little extra care in order to avoid mistakes. Make a list of your user names and passwords, and create backup codes for accounts that have two-phase authentication enabled.
To protect this list, there are several things you can do. Keep a copy on paper or on removable media, such as a safe in the home or on the bench. Give the list to an attorney or register for an end-of-life planning service.
Remember that companies and law firms can close, so you should also have another form of backup. Do not forget to also ask them about their security, since if they lost all this confidential information together at the same time, it would be a huge problem to fix.
Be ensure to encrypt it, if you keep a digital copy of your credentials. Public key encryption is the most common option in this situation, but remember to be aware of expiration dates. And keep in mind that the storage media degrade over time, so every five or ten years you must pass your information to a new disk.
We have all gone through a fire or other drill at least once in our lives, so we understand that their goal is to help us act swiftly and sensibly even in a state of emotional shock.
Likewise, preparing your loved ones beforehand through good practice will make the care of your digital assets less difficult and distressing when the time comes.
Issues related to mortality are not pleasant to deal with, and most people do not think about them until they enter the fall of their life. When accidents happen, the survivors’ stress can be overwhelming, even without the terrible effort needed to break through our hermetic safety measures. So if we take a few minutes to prepare for the worst, we can prevent our family and friends from having an extra burden to bear.