Today I want to talk about what I think we can all agree is a fascinating subject and that is…risk management. I know – what has End of Life Planning and risk management got to do with each other? And in this instance, the answer is…passwords.
Are Written Passwords Risky?
When I’ve been talking to people about making their End of Life Plan – and in particular, anything to do with their online and digital life – writing down passwords for all of their accounts is something most people baulk at.
They really dislike the idea of keeping that information together in one place, because ‘what if’?
It’s usually, ‘What if someone breaks in and steals it?’ ‘What if someone finds that information and does something awful with it?’
And my question back is, “How likely is that to happen?”
And yes, these things do happen. But I’d like you to take a step back and just think about ‘likelihood’ and ‘impact’, because that’s what risk management is about.
Passwords and Perspective
When there is a risk of something going wrong, then it’s important to just take that step back and ask yourself, “Ok, if it did go wrong, how bad would it be? What would the impact be?”
Of course, if someone got hold of all your passwords and all your information, the impact would be devastating.
But the second – and equally important – question is, “How likely is that to happen?”
Everyone will have different answers to that question, but I would suggest that it’s very unlikely to happen.
Practical Risk Management
With that in mind, there are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood even further.
- You can choose to write down your personal information and passwords in a cryptic way. This would allow the person who needs to know the information to understand, whilst presenting as gobbledygook (fabulous word!) to everyone else.
- You can also choose where you store this information because I’m not suggesting you write out all your accounts/personal information/passwords, and just leave them lying around on the coffee table for anyone to look at!
If someone were to come into your home looking for things to steal, it’s really unlikely that they are going to be looking for a piece of paper with that information on it. And depending on where you keep it, they’re probably not going to look there either.
So it’s just about thinking, “What information can I write down that I’m comfortable with? Where can I store it in a place that’s really unlikely to be found, but I will tell the person or the people around me who would need to know that? And can I write in such a way that it would make sense to them, but not necessarily to someone who doesn’t know me?”
Because I think if you were to do that, you would really be helping those people around you. You would be minimising the risk of anybody finding it; or if they did, being able to do anything with it. This is what taking a risk management approach is all about.
Or An Alternative
If you’re reading this thinking, “Absolutely not. I am never doing that, it’s way too risky!”, then perhaps I could encourage you to just write down two pieces of information and share them with the people/person closest to you:
- Your phone pin number
- Your laptop or computer pin code/passcode.
If the people around you have access to those two devices, that’s really going to help them should they ever need to be able to access them.
But if you feel that you could go one stage further, go ahead and write out some of your account details and your most important passwords. And then hide them somewhere that 99.99% of people would never think to look, but that the person closest to you knows, then that, I think, is a really useful way of approaching End of Life Planning in a risk-managed way.
‘Risk management’. It’s not a term you see often in End of Life Planning, but it is pretty useful.
It’s a tool to help you manage something that can feel a little bit overwhelming. And it can help you break it down, put some things in perspective, and take some action. Which is exactly what End of Life Planning is all about.
Until next time, take care.