Sephem's Ubulwembu (web) Blog

Death Switch is it a good idea?

by Sephem on Mar.23, 2009, under Software

One of my colleagues sent out an e-mail to bring to our attention this website he came across called Death Switch.

A deathswitch is an automated system that prompts you for your password on a regular schedule to make sure you are still alive. When you do not enter your password for some period of time, the system prompts you again several times. With no reply, the computer deduces you are dead or critically disabled, and your pre-scripted messages are automatically emailed to those named by you.

At first I was a bit sceptical if this was a very good idea. Would you entrust your most secret details with another company or person you do not know? Would you just keep all your passwords on someone else’s system? I know I would not.

Well after some careful research and investigation, I have come to the conclusion that this might not be such a bad system if used correctly with the right software and systems in place.

The scenes from the movies are not that far away when after you die, a video or an encrypted disc is sent to someone on the event of your death. In fact those times are here and have been for quite some time. It is not that difficult to get setup and running either.

Lets take a look at using an encrypted USB flash drive. All you need to do is use a piece of software called TrueCrypt which is free and Open-Source to create an encrypted file on a flash drive and then give the drive to the person you want to have the information in the event of your death. You can also create multiple flash drives, each with different files on. You could even create a video file with your last will and testament, or a message for your loved ones.

Once this is done, you can then sign up for Death Switch. (Note that with the free account, you can only setup one e-mail and you cannot upload any attachments.) Then what you can do is setup the e-mail or emails (if you have a premium account) to send out the messages with just the password to the corresponding flash drive.

Then your family, loved ones or anyone else you have give an encrypted flash drive to will be able to open it and read its contents.

Click here to see an example of the Death Switch prompt and an example of an e-mail that could be sent out.

So not as unsecure as I thought at first if you do it correctly that is.

:,

2 Comments for this entry

  • W1tw0lf

    Like the idea behind death switch. But what would happen in the case of a false alert ? There system crashes/you not having access to the internet for a week or two ?

  • David Neale

    Well when you say false alarm, I am sure that e-mails would not go out without the deathswitch being triggered, otherwise I am sure there would be mayhem from the subscribers. As for the system crashing, I am sure you would know about it as you would no longer receive the deathswitch alert.

    The good thing about holidays, is that they do have a facility that you can put you return date for leave in so it will pause the system till then.

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