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Post-mortem protection for passwords and private info

Do you ever wonder what happens to your virtual self after you die?

Do you ever wonder what happens to your virtual self after you die?


In an online world where passwords to vast amounts of critical workplace information are stored only in one person’s head, there’s a real risk your posthumous avatar will fall as silent as your fleshly existence after the last whistle blows.


Wave-of-the-future websites such as deathswitch.com might just have the answer. The service allows individuals to load up the website with their passwords, financial information and even personal secrets.


The site will then email the user at regular intervals to check if they’re still alive, and when they stop responding after a pre-determined period of time, this flips the Deathswitch and sends that information to the selected recipients. Thus, colleagues can carry on in the absence of their co-worker.


Keith Murphy, CEO of the Ottawa-based information security firm Defence Intelligence, says many companies have no posthumous plans for protecting employee secrets and so lose them to an online purgatory, but he cautions against storing too much information on one external website.


“The basics of security is you would never want a single point of failure,” he says.


Murphy suggests storing the actual information elsewhere – perhaps in a locked drawer – and using a Deathswitch-style email to tell colleagues how to locate it. You could also send password hints to someone who could decode them.


Deathswitch in particular uses high-level security encryption that would thwart any hacker, and even the website’s creator David Eagleman doesn’t know what’s stored on its servers.


He says the Deathswitch emails are good reminders to keep your work and personal affairs in order and take precautions to ensure that when you die, your virtual self can stick around long enough to pass on the critical information.

 
 
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