Posted on 05/21/2017
Password managers are a great tool for remembering your passwords and making sure they are random, long, and secure. Some password managers remind you to change your passwords every so often or when there has been a reported breach of a service. However, there is another extremely important reason to use one: leave your important information for your loved ones if the unexpected happens.
As I wrote previously, my step-father passed away unexpectedly. He wasn't the most tech-savvy person, but he did have a couple email accounts and a Twitter account. Most importantly, he had an iPhone with the "Find my iPhone" functionality enabled. In order to turn this functionality off, you need the AppleID and password for the owner of the phone. This is a great security feature that disallows a thief from erasing your phone and using it as their own. However, if you are the rightful owner (or someone has bequeathed a phone to you), you cannot disable "Find My iPhone" without the AppleID password or access to the person's email address to reset the password.
This is where a password manager comes in. You can have all your passwords in one place, and you don't have to remember any of them. They can be long and very random, but you only need to remember one password to access your entire password database. I currently use 1Password, and it's great. Every month, I ask my wife to tell me what my 1 password is, and I deliberately make it something that she can remember any time I change it. That way, if something unexpected happens to me, she can access all my accounts and information. Additionally, I keep an encrypted USB drive in my desk drawer with other files and information I think she made need if something were to ever happen to me. I include a readme file that explains what everything is and why she might need it. It's just one less thing for her to worry about.
For the record, Apple and AT&T deserve lots of credit for the way they handled things for my mom. After we explain the situation, Apple told us exactly what information we needed in order to prove that she owned the phone, AT&T gave us that information quickly, and Apple removed the Activation Lock. It is comforting to know that companies will take care of their customers in times of hardship, but I would rather make it as easy as possible for them. Please use a password manager to make your life easier and safer, and help your loved ones in case of something tragic.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a mathematician and programmer. Currently, I am working on a PhD in arithmetic geometry. I like to write about many things including math, sports, programming, education, and technology. If you would like to see my comments more frequently, you can follow me on my social profiles: