Death and passwords!

Ok, this is something I have never thought about.

Recently I did a presentation to a rotary group in Canberra on cyber crime.

After the presentation I was asked by a solicitor, “what happens to all of your accounts when you die”.

We all may think that if I die the world will stop.

You see one of the problems, after someone dies, is that life goes on.

There is another component of this and that is power to attorney, what happens if you loose your mind, Alzheimer’s, accident, virus or any other way to go into a vegative state, others now need to access your information.   Have you made it so difficult that only you can access that information.

Access to bank accounts and credit cards are an everyday occurrence.   If they are in your partners name then the chance of you running out of money very quickly is a sever possibility.    The longer it takes to gain access the longer you are without money, or access to money.   For a business this could have sever repercussions.   The loss of the owner would be a problem, the ability for the business to function without cash would have a devastating impact on all concerned.

No cash flow, no pay roll, now what?

If you are the most secure person in the world and have taken precautions to ensure that your passwords are safe, what happens to your estate if you should die unexpectedly.

With everything that I teach this is a problem.

What happens to access to your business accounts, your home accounts, your super accounts and the like.    If you have been using secure principle in your password creation process then your next of kin are stuffed.

Even if you understand your partners inner workings, if they have a complicated password, using all of our principles for creating complicated passwords, the chance that you maybe able to break into an account could be not only difficult but also very time consuming and expensive.

Some business operations have ways for you to reset passwords, banks and super are two that come to mind.   But what about payment gateways, collection houses or companies like PayPal.   If like me you went through hoops to set up your business PayPal account you will understand that they take security VERY SERIOUSLY.

Where we go with this I don’t know.

Maybe there should be an attachment to your will, as long as it is securely protected, that contains either your password process, a set of account and password details or access to a master system like a password safe.   A password safe has the added advantage of creating separate users for your loved ones.

This will ensure that in the event of your death that your loved ones can still function or your business can still function as a business.

In addition to all of this you also have trust issues that also need to be resolved.   How much do you trust your business partners.   Do you trust them enough not to rip you off?   What about the rest of your family, trusting your children, your partner is that something that needs to be factored into the solution.

I hope that I have given you food for thought.   I would recommend that you come up with your own solution.

Maybe an updated list that is attached to your will is a good start.

It can be updated regularly (every 3 to 6 months), it has the capability of making sure that others have access to your critical information on computers, in the cloud and on the Internet.

Maybe financial institutions need to put some rules around how, what and why a person would need to access a partners or loved ones accounts and take appropriate actions to resolve this.

Roger Smith, is an educator. Teaching students at ADFA (UNSW) and showing them how vulnerable they are to cybercrime.

He is also CEO at R & I ICT Consulting Services Pty Ltd, an Amazon #1 author on Cybercrime and founder of the SME Security Framework. He is a Consultant who specialises in inexpensive and highly effective security strategies for small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations.

He has developed and authored the SME Security Framework and the Security Policy Training Course which are considered to be the definitive guides to helping SME's protect their organisation using the principles of Technology, Management, Adaptability and Compliance.