That’s the title of a very interesting article by Lincoln Spector at pcworld.com. The point he’s making is that since so much of our personal world is now online – email, cloud storage, online banking, etc. – someone needs access to those accounts in case of an emergency, illness or death. His solution involves the use of a password management app. I totally agree.
In his article, he uses the Password Safe app for Windows [open source] as his example and has a copy for both himself and his wife. Each has a section with important information related to the spouse. This is a very smart solution. Included in the spouse section are items for that person’s smartphone PIN, email password and the password to his/her Password Safe data. The information is safely tucked away yet easily accessible to the spouse.
In my family, we use the 1Password app [available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android]. These apps aren’t cheap ($40 for the desktop edition and $18 for the iOS edition) but they will quickly earn their keep. One purchase of the Mac desktop app can be installed on both our computers and one iOS app purchase installs on all our iPhones and iPads. The recently released 1Password 4 for Mac supports multiple vaults (data collections) and includes the ability to create a shared vault. Now we can each have our own private password collection and a “family” collection for the things we share. And, whenever a change is made to a collection on one device, it is instantly available to all our devices.
On the desktop, there’s a browser extension (available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer) that can be used to insert login information directly from your vault.
It gets better.
You can use 1Password to keep all kinds of personal information: bank accounts, driver license numbers, library card numbers and even credit card information. Not only is it easily available when you need it, but you can use the credit card feature to insert the card number, security code and expiration information into web forms when making online purchases. There’s also a section for keeping software license numbers which I absolutely love. And, since so many online accounts now include security questions for use when you access certain information, there’s room in each data record to include notes such as this.
1Password can even generate very secure and unique passwords for each individual site – passwords I’d never be able to remember on my own. The data file is encrypted using military grade encryption and I only need to remember one password – the one that accesses my 1Password vault.
I can’t control all of my digital information, but thanks to 1Password those parts I do control are now much safer.