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“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”
Benjamin Franklin, 1789
“……. not to mention identify theft and cybercrime”
Christian Toon, 2014
Today; in the UK over 30 million public records detail the material wealth of citizens. These can tell me more about you than any other single document today, your lifestyle, your character, your address, your date of birth, your next of kin, your business relationships, your personal relationships and more besides. Imagine being part of a database holding all or most of this sensitive information. Information which, for a small fee, can be shared with anyone. Your only real chance of excluding yourself or ‘Opting-out’ is to become a member of the Royal family (and make sure you stay a member!).
Scary it may sound, but this isn’t some dystopian future. This is real life right now, and it has been a way of life since 1858 when the wills of deceased UK citizens transferred from the Church to government control). When a person dies somebody has to manage their estate. Any money property and possessions left by the deceased are collected any outstanding debts are paid and the remainder of the estate is then and distributed among those people who are entitled to it. A common way of dealing with this transference of wealth is a will. You’re your death a document that details your life’s work and posthumous intentions is made public.
For the living, protecting our identity is a constant battle to keep our personal and business lives safe from the hackers, fraudsters and cyber-ill-doers. But at the end of lives, if it’s all going to end up in the public domain anyway, you’re tempted to ask yourself “what’s the point?”
There’s an argument that as a deceased citizen your value online financially is zero, no accounts, no authority and your data suddenly becomes of little interest. So this redirects the cyber threats to more profitable prey – the living. But your data, most of which remains very personal, now takes on historical importance.
If the end game is about maximising the assets to bequeath to your next of kin, then of course you’re going to need to protect what’s rightfully theirs – so, do you really think ‘Password1’ is suitable for an authentication password if that’s the case?
Let’s not think about the here and now, this is bigger than any of us. This is about our families, and their children and our legacy. Perhaps the right time, then, to think information security.
For more information about how access to over 150 years of wills is managed, take a look at http://www.ironmountain.co.uk/resource-center/case-studies/document-management/probate-providing-access-to-150-years-of-wills