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Author Topic: Is your online life in your will? (Backups, passwords, etc.)  (Read 7973 times)
CodeTRUCKER
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« on: April 09, 2009, 08:14:53 PM »

After my L-A-S-T catastrophic loss of my hard-earned data, I have spent a lot of time researching backups and online backup services.  In doing so, something kept crawling up my spine I couldn't identify until today... 

There was not a single word on including online backups in a last will and testament! 

The obligatory search on Google for "online backups and your last will and testament" yielded not a single hit on this subject that I could detect, of course your mileage may vary.

Regardless of your station in life... You, your likes, dislikes, convictions, and even what you do for fun are summarised in what you leave behind to your decendants.  These bits and pieces will be of immense intrinsic value.  I can only imagine what my great, great, great grandchildren will experience when they view, listen to and read the collection of my personal treasures!

Think about how tragic it would be to amass a digital history of one's personna only to leave it to NO posterity whatever!  To be sure there may be items included that you would best leave to oblivion, but I task the reader to take whatever action he/she deems appropriate so their heirs may "eat the chicken without having to spit out the bones." 

The point is if you have never considered this aspect of your eventual probate, you have a very important item for your priority "To Do" list!

"I did some research on the Internet and discovered that 10 out of 10 people die."
                                                                                         - Roger Bennet


(A personal note to my international readers... please excuse me if I have not represented your countries customs correctly in regard to a "will" or "probate.")

Fair winds,
Calvin   
« Last Edit: April 10, 2009, 09:07:47 AM by CodeTRUCKER » Logged

I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

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nudone
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2009, 03:06:52 AM »

good point. we are the first generation that has a digital life of any importance - and i know if i died tomorrow my hard drives would probably end up in the trash not long after (or, at the least, wiped clean by the next owner).
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wraith808
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2009, 09:43:09 AM »

There is a service for this- I can't remember offhand what the url is, but I ran across it in my research about a business idea that I was working on.  I did a search and came up with this one that I hadn't seen before.  https://www.legacylocker.com/
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40hz
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2009, 10:59:05 PM »

There was a program that addressed many of these concerns several years ago.

 It was a Windows application called Dead Man's Switch.

It worked something like that computer terminal with the countdown sequence in Lost. First, you entered a countdown time value. Then, if you didn't reset the counter prior to it running out, the program would perform any (or all) of the following actions:

  • Post entries to webpages (this feature was very limited and unreliable at the time this app came out)

  • Send e-mail messages to specific recipients (good for sending bank account info, lock combinations, GPS coordinates for where you buried your pirate treasure, etc. Also good for firing off all those final messages you hoped you'd be able send people before you died: "Just wanted to let you know I did know about your little affaire back in 2002 - so there!" )

  • Encrypt files on local hard drives (perfect for locking everybody out all those 'technical' jpg collections you accumulated over the years)

I've been told there was also 'nuke' version that had the ability to securely wipe listed files, but I have never been able to locate a copy. I strongly suspect the 'nuker' capability was one more of the many myths that surrounded this piece of software.

Here's the interface for the most famous version, which I believe is still available for download.



The interface is pretty self-explanatory. I'd be careful about using it however. The last release was in 2002, and I don't believe it's been updated since.

A more modern version this app might make a nice coding project for somebody.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2009, 11:01:22 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Dormouse
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2009, 04:44:18 AM »

I've been vaguely worrying of this problem for some time. Mostly about important stuff about how to do things, access important data, say what accounts/policies etc exist; very big stuff isn't a problem because other people already have the ability to access the accounts etc. All stuff I'd only want accessible through my secret not-written-down master password. I don't want to trust any company or site that might fly by night when I wasn't watching. I can't asume that my computer will be turned on. I can't assume that there will be anyone technically adept, though there might be. I haven't come up with a better solution than paper or an unencrypted initial set of instructions kept somewhere secure in a bank or equivalent. That would allow me to distribute encrypted files amongst family which would contain instructions about accessing everything - on the net or elsewhere.

A two layer protection.
No family member (or 'friend' of theirs who accessed the file) would be able to do anything with it because it is encrypted.
No member of bank staff would be able to access anything without physical access to the paper; even with access to the paper they couldn't access anything without access to the encrypted files that the family have.

I haven't actually set this up yet, but it is the only system I've thought of that I'd be prepared to trust. atm, I'm trusting my longevity and paper chaos that no-one else is likely to find their way through. I've not wanted to write anything clearly for fear a thief would break in and access it (and everything). It's all very much like a will.
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40hz
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2009, 10:06:56 AM »

I haven't actually set this up yet, but it is the only system I've thought of that I'd be prepared to trust. atm, I'm trusting my longevity and paper chaos that no-one else is likely to find their way through. I've not wanted to write anything clearly for fear a thief would break in and access it (and everything). It's all very much like a will.

You can also implement a system like this the old-fashioned way: let your attorney handle it for you.

You could instruct your attorney to hold and deliver sealed envelopes to whomever you designated under whatever conditions you wanted. If the information is in an encrypted digital format, you could even give each future recipient the decryption key in advance. They wouldn't be able to use it until they got the disk you prepared for them. And it would only work on their disk.

You might even want to have a little fun with this. Imagine quietly pulling a friend or relative aside at a party. Put on your best Peter Lori expression and, in a hushed voice, say:

If anything should ever happen to me, somebody will get in touch with you. He'll give you an envelope which will explain everything. But no matter what happens...please!...you must remember this code word...

 Grin
---

Using an attorney has some ramifications however.

If you are in the United States, handing your attorny those sealed envelopes would give you the advantage making them privileged client-attorney communications, which are not subject to disclosure under normal circumstances. This would protect them from virtually any attempts to get access to them.

Unfortunately, if this information would only be released upon your demise, the situation changes significantly. Because all your assets become part of your estate when you die, any post-demise communications or instructions your executor receives are subject to probate review for possible tax consequences. Uncle Sam doesn't care if you love him and leave him so long as you leave him enough, to paraphrase Mae West.

So you might as well forget about quietly slipping that waitress (who was always so nice to you) the access codes to your secret Cayman Island bank account. You can still leave it to her - but she'll have to pay taxes. And needless to say, anything in your estate that's illegal (like maybe those bank accounts) would be subject to seizure by the courts.

And don't forget that the courts are increasingly ordering people to decrypt data files. There is no longer such a thing as absolute legal privacy. If your recipient has the key to whatever you sent them, a judge may order them to unlock it for review by a court.

So if you're really trying to hide something of a dubious nature, forget about using an attorney. They're allowed to represent and counsel you in complete privacy. But they're not allowed to help you break the law. smiley

« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 10:15:24 AM by 40hz » Logged

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DDRAMbo
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2009, 01:40:46 AM »

What's wrong with letting someone you trust know what your password is and where your backup data is stored? In such a case, isn't this the same as having valuables in a lock box? huh
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2009, 10:00:37 AM »

What's wrong with letting someone you trust know what your password is and where your backup data is stored?

Nothing wrong at all. That's exactly what I've done. smiley

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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2009, 11:11:37 AM »

Having had to decipher computer accounts for a widow friend of mine and also had an uncle die this month, the thought had crossed my mind. With the urge to have different passwords for different websites, with numbers of passwords increasing on a monthly basis, this would be impossible to keep up to date with an attorney.
I had thought about creating a webservice that would prompt users for specific information to be kept, with a dead mans switch to activate. However you'd probably want the dead mans switch to run after a month (so it wouldn't trigger if you went on holiday for two weeks) but would your spouse be able to wait a month for that information to be released to them in case of your death? Typically some of these things like bank accounts need to be activated NOW. Also I'm not sure that *I* would trust my data to my own web site or another third party....
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ajp
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2009, 12:35:59 PM »

OMG  ohmy
Haven't thought of it before.
The software approach sounds tempting, but there is a risk of flakyness and/or extreme sofistication. I guess that for delicate matters, the old style approach should do (tell your attorney), as long as the instructions you include are specific enough for the destinataries.

I'm glad I recently organized my passwords. I'm going to tell my wife about where and how, just in case.
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Dormouse
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2009, 01:38:49 PM »

What's wrong with letting someone you trust know what your password is and where your backup data is stored? In such a case, isn't this the same as having valuables in a lock box? huh

It means that your security becomes no better than their security (actually worse since there is then the combined risk of their system or your system being accessed by someone else).
Also means that you are giving them access NOW, which may not be what you want.
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wraith808
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2009, 04:55:42 PM »

^ This.  And when in the absence of your influence, best laid plans about what happens to your data after you pass can go awry...
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2009, 09:55:03 PM »

Just be careful how you define "die".

A cheap crook in, I  think Utah recently, knew he was on his deathbed and hoping to get special dispensation, confessed to an otherwise unsolved murder.

Imagine his chagrin when he made a full recovery "from deaths door", only to be handed over to the police for his crime and to stand trial!!

I can't imagine anything anyone writes on the Internet to be worth saving nor preserving for 'posterity'.  Most of the very contributors generally do so at the expense of their families well being. And for those who have no offspring, who'd care?

Bob
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4wd
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2009, 11:00:52 PM »

It was a Windows application called Dead Man's Switch.

The only obvious problem to that program was that it was required to be running on a PC - how many of your relatives are going to leave a PC running in your house after you snuff it?
The damn vultures will be in there and picking at your stuff before your corpse has cooled.

Unless the time out was set to a really short time, (24 hours at most I would think), it's probably not very useful.

Although I do like the idea that it'll encrypt data automatically on time out, it would probably have been better to encrypt it in the first place.

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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2009, 12:27:10 PM »

A friend of mine who I was seeing on the sly, suddenly went off-line from chat claiming she was seriously ill. During the next few days, I continued to leave messages of my concern, deep concern if you know what I mean.  Kiss The days grew into a week. I can't call her since in the worst case scenario the phone would be answered by someone I don't wish to speak with obviously. If anyone else gets on her computer to check her chat records to see if there is someone that needs to be contacted due to her impending or actual death, my days of concerned chat will come bubbling to the surface like vinegar and baking soda as the first things that they see. It could be humiliating and harmful to either of us in the wrong hands.
Well, I'm hoping that she's fine. Since we met this is the longest we've ever gone without contact at least through chat. I need her in my life, and I would be devastated if she expired, but it would be even worse if I found out through someone else who was investigating our chat. I know that she didn't use a password for the chat program, or anywhere else on her machine. In this case, the security would be better off Kept from Everyone. This is one possible negative consequence of all this concern.
I'm still waiting for her to contact me.
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40hz
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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2009, 05:54:01 PM »

Deadman's Switch reborn as a web service? Here's an article addressing a few of the things that cropped up here:

http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/66554.html

Quote
Wrapping Up an Online Life When Real Life Ends

By Peter Svensson
AP
03/22/09 4:00 AM PT

When someone dies unexpectedly, a loved one may naturally want to inform the departed's friends and acquaintances that they've passed away. That's not always easy when that person had a widespread network of online relationships. New sites are popping up to organize and ease the task.

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« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2009, 03:53:29 PM »

Woo-hoo, my babies back online...Whew!
Anyway, this situation reminded me of one of my best friends. He lives alone, is a computer programmer, and has a Ton of porn on his computer. Not the nasty stuff, more like Playboy pics, in the Millions! He comes from a family of hawty-tawty edubacated's that he's damn sure will Not accept him if they knew about his little cache of babe pics. So recently when his brother the dentist (and kids) stayed for awhile, he had to bump up his computer security to 'red' level to hide it all. But if he were to kick off, the general level of security (can you say, "weak-ass OS security" in here?) that he's using would most assuredly no keep his rels from exposing his exposing collection, which would then cause his father, and possibly mother, to have a heart attack, his brothers to burn down his house, and in the process my rare collection of Commodore 64 disks that he's storing for me would be destroyed.
Well, far be it for me to encroach on some good-ole family ravings and destruction when they discover their son's perversion, but lest my collection be harmed, maybe I should consider the protection of my own software stash if he should croak. I'm sure there are many people with items stored at their friend's places that might have issues with the rels if they didn't know about them. In any case, and in particular this case, I'm thinking that his solution should be to keep a copy of his financial data on an external server, make the info relatively easy for the rels to get at, and Really tighten down the security of that collection, just in case. And possibly a living will. And a note about my collection (and maybe throw in that stand-alone William's Defender game machine Wink.
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4wd
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« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2009, 05:28:47 PM »

Well, far be it for me to encroach on some good-ole family ravings and destruction when they discover their son's perversion, but lest my collection be harmed, maybe I should consider the protection of my own software stash if he should croak. I'm sure there are many people with items stored at their friend's places that might have issues with the rels if they didn't know about them. In any case, and in particular this case, I'm thinking that his solution should be to keep a copy of his financial data on an external server, make the info relatively easy for the rels to get at, and Really tighten down the security of that collection, just in case. And possibly a living will. And a note about my collection (and maybe throw in that stand-alone William's Defender game machine Wink.

Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just store the 'artistic' collection on an external encrypted HDD?

Just unplug it when people come to visit, (to avoid "what's on here?" questions), and if he snuffs it then the relatives won't be able to access it anyway.
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« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2009, 11:04:32 PM »

If you had a bevy of babes waiting for you in the basement, would you prefer to chain them to the wall and leave them locked in a sound-proof room until you wanted to visit them, or would you rather they partied like there's no tomorrow and were readily available for you to enjoy? I think he's considered the irksome and I might add not so reliable notion of encrypting them to lock them away from prying eyes. But the enjoyment and access factors clearly outweigh the element of security. And I guess if it is understood that the privacy of his personal computer and all it's records is to be respected by the rels, there's going to have to be a clear record Somewhere of what Is available to the rels prying eyes.
I'm sure that there are many people with porn and other things that they wouldn't want there rels and friends, or possibly even business associates to find on their computers, so this more general problem has to be taken as seriously as specific records that Should be revealed to pertinent individuals upon the death of the owner. On-the-fly encryption methodologies aren't any more reliable than the computer system that they're run on. Would you trust an amassed precious collection of software, data, etc. to Any such system running on a Windows machine? In actuality there are three levels of security in most systems of this secure sort, and none of these involves an on-the-fly encryption system. The first is a secure building with good security to even get into in the door. The second is Trustworthy personnel, and the third is your basic username-password system, and that's all. In fact, my freind works for such an institution where he is highly trusted and the level of security to access the most sensitive data he has access to is a simple username-password system, and the data is worth millions of dollars!
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CodeTRUCKER
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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2009, 03:29:39 PM »

Hmmmmm.... I am surprised no one has considered the security of what we call around here... a safety deposit box.
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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

An Open Letter to My Friends


Notice: - Unless stated otherwise, I receive no compensation for anything I post here.
CodeTRUCKER
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« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2009, 03:36:20 PM »

...

I can't imagine anything anyone writes on the Internet to be worth saving nor preserving for 'posterity'.  Most of the very contributors generally do so at the expense of their families well being. And for those who have no offspring, who'd care?

Bob

I can name over a thousand people (no joke) that have friends and family that would want the opportunity to find out what they had to say.  I don't consider myself unique, but I am persuaded that every individual is of incalculable intrinsic worth and what someone writes is treasure to another.  Writings are a window to "who" they are.
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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

An Open Letter to My Friends


Notice: - Unless stated otherwise, I receive no compensation for anything I post here.
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« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2012, 09:09:16 AM »

I know it's an old thread but this really belongs here...

What Happens to Your Digital Life When You Die? [Video Infographic]
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« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2012, 01:05:15 PM »

I have thought of some of this, and here's a few wrinkles.

First, the Deadman Switch risks being too aggressive. It might need to be a year! Because gawd knows I get enthused with stuff, then don't update it for 7 months. A False Positive on a Deadman Switch is a Bad Thing.

Second, the law is growing increasingly murky about liability of descendents to original's data liability, aka Copyright. In a perfect world, I'd rather leave my Next of Kin Whitelisted data (mostly!) immune from the likes of SOPA/ACTA.

There's soon going to be needed a third "Canary/Deadman" switch for if current representives are hauled away alive on bogus charges. This might need to be aggressive, such as your homepage login includes a "Canary pacifier" token, but if you don't log in for a month, it spills X data around the web.


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« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2012, 02:03:20 PM »

Quote
I am persuaded that every individual is of incalculable intrinsic worth and what someone writes is treasure to another.  Writings are a window to "who" they are.

+1, CT  thumbs up
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