Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sharing Passwords

Security professionals have always beaten into our heads that we should NEVER share our passwords with anyone. For any reason. At any time.

But take the following situation.

Last night my wife got a call from an old neighbor of ours. Her aunt had died suddenly in an operation and she got a call from her frustrated uncle. Apparently, her aunt did all of the finances on the computer and did not know the password to get onto it! She called us to see if I knew how to get around the password problem.

But this got me thinking. What would happen in a situation like this with my wife and I? She doesn't know any of my passwords and I'm pretty sure I don't know hers. If something happened to us, would we be able to get into the sites the other pays things on?

The obvious solution is that we either use the same passwords or share the ones we need to know. But, sharing passwords is bad, remember? Unless you can do it securely.

While I was looking around, I found a blog post at insomnic.wordpress.com talking about this. IMO, its a pretty decent solution - use a secure password keeper program that both you and your spouse have access to. By keeping the passwords in there which you both need to know, then you are covered in the event something happens to one of you.

Yes, there is now the problem of having the "keys to the kingdom" in one spot covered by one password...but that happens anyways when you use a password keeper program. I believe as long as you are careful in the password you create for that, you should be good.

Does anyone do this now? Does anyone have any other solutions? I'm honestly curious how others do this.


Bleeber said...

The first solution that comes to mind would be a safety deposit box. That way in the unfortunate case that you die, your will would provide your spouse all the access they need by providing them a key and power of attorney to open and retrieve the information in your bank box.

Problems do arise if you are in a coma or similar state. Your will does not come into effect and your spouse is still locked out.

It would seem that any lawyer could easily draft up something that would provide you with the needed paperwork.

Insomnic said...

Thanks for the link!

So far this system has been working fairly well for my wife and I. It's easy to update and with minimal effort we even have the passwords with us (including pass phrases for phone-in services). The DB is encrypted and password protected and our computers and phones are also password protected so it's very secure. This definitely has come in handy for many situations.