Thursday, 19 July 2012

When you die, will someone need to know your online passwords?

Here's an interesting, if slightly morbid thought. When you die, what happens to all the 'stuff' you keep in The Cloud, assuming you are a user of such services as Google Docs/Drive, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Picasa etc? Clearly the services will carry on without you, but there's a pretty strong likelihood that your family will have to untangle all sorts of things within your social networks, may want or need access to some of your online assets (what about domain name registrations and the like?), and could possibly want to remove some things from the internet.

How will they do this without passwords? I can imagine a long drawn out process of having to contact every single service provider, supply death certificates and the like.

So there are a couple of ways around this. I could write down all my passwords and put them in a sealed envelope which I give to my lawyer (or some other trusted individual) for safekeeping. But then I can never change my passwords, or if I do I need to open the envelope and write them down again.

Then there is a service called LegacyLocker, who for a one time fee of US$299 (or $29 a year) will store passwords (and anything else you want them to), only releasing them to named beneficiaries on proof of your death.

Another option would be to put all of your passwords in a file which you encrypt using a strong encryption key, and then store the file somewhere publicly accessible online. You could then just put a URL and the encryption key in your sealed envelope, so this is a kind of halfway house.

Food for thought at any rate, especially if you have the plethora of online services and passwords that I have, and take sensible precautions to keep your passwords secret.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Go Easy, Cloud

If you've read my book (come on there must be a few of you out there!), you'll know that I talk a fair bit about some of the myriad of bits of web based open source software that are out there that businesses could use at very low cost. There is CRM software like SugarCRM and vTiger, all sorts of content management systems (not just Joomla/Wordpress/Drupal), eLearning from the likes of Drupal, asset management, project management, issue tracking, internet telephony, the list goes on.

But the problem is that unless you have the skill set to set up and maintain your own web server (and let's face it most people don't), these can be quite hard to get using.

Enter Texas hosting company CloutHost, who tweeted me a couple of weeks ago about their new cloud offering, EasyCloud. Their service is based on a simple principle. They have a bunch (something like 70) of standard templates for a lot of the more popular free and open source web applications. So all you have to do is click a button and it's all set up for you at a pretty competitive fee ($25 a month for a small business option).

So, it looks like a pretty good option if you want some of this functionality without paying hefty management fees, although I do think the average non-techie business person might need a little hand holding to pick a product and do the initial setup.