Life, death, and broken software

In a post titled Life, Death, and Splitting Secrets, Jeff Moser presents a software solution for splitting up a password N ways so your loved ones can put the secrets together and get access to critical information from you after your death, using a computer program.

While this shared secret approach is interesting for certain uses, it is unwise for Moser’s stated use…Simply enough, none of us writes bug-free code, and you don’t want to make important information dependent on a computer program you wrote when in this case, by definition you won’t be around to debug it. The risk is high that something will go wrong: a library you used is now unsupported and doesn’t load on the computers your relatives have; GUIDs act differently and the now-legacy mode you used doesn’t give the format you expect—with the bottom line that your loved ones won’t be able to get to the information they needed from you. Far better to use a low-tech method such as an old-fashioned key hidden away somewhere that the relatives know about.

This is an instance where our myopia as programmers is exposed.

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