By Russell Brandom
What happens to your passwords if you die? It’s a tricky question, and one most security systems avoid entirely. But LastPass has a new answer, rolled out today with a redesigned 4.0 version of the password manager. It’s similar to a number of “trusted friend” features already in place in other systems (most notably Google Accounts and Dashlane), but LastPass is presenting its feature as specifically designed for cases of death or incapacitation.
“We never want to leave our loved ones without access to the passwords they need,” the company said in an announcement, “like being able to pay the mortgage and manage credit card bills, or carry out our final wishes.”
Called “Emergency Access,” the new system allows you to designate certain trusted email addresses that can request access to your passwords. If any of those email addresses requests access, LastPass will contact the user and begin the pre-set waiting period. If the user doesn’t respond by the end of the waiting period, the passwords are turned over and the trusted friend is given full access to the account.
For high security cases, that might look like a disaster waiting to happen — but the feature is entirely optional, and won’t be turned on unless users opt in. For users that do turn it on, the best advice is to choose your trusted friends carefully, set as few as possible, and opt for long waiting periods. If something does happen to you, you won’t be in any hurry to check your email.