How Much Do You Know About Your Spouse’s Cyber Life? By Robin Trimingham
After eons of sharing a life together we all like to think we know everything that there is to know about the person we live with, and when it comes to their daily routine and food preferences, perhaps we do.
But what about their secret cyber life?
Secret Life? Preposterous you say? Think again.
If you have ever read a newspaper online, followed a blog, watched a YouTube video, attended a webinar, purchased goods or services, signed up a PayPal account or a newsletter, done your banking or paid a bill online, downloaded an app, started a Facebook page or an Instagram page, or registered for a free online email account then you have created a cyber footprint and each additional time that you have logged onto the internet subsequently you have added to your cyber profile.
This cyber profile is attached to your IP address and / or your email and social network accounts and it follows you everywhere like an invisible shadow. Your profile is unique to you and your spouse (or life partner) has one too.
So what’s the big deal?
A great deal of your cyber profile continues to exist well after you are gone – meaning that even though you might be winging your way into the “great beyond”, your email address with its super-secret password may live on indefinitely, as may the annual auto-renewal for your online subscriptions, domain registrations and paid apps that no one realized you had.
Yes, the providers of these services might find that they are unable to auto-renew their service if someone was able to shut down the credit card associated with the account, but what if these services were associated with a credit card that is in someone else’s name and is still active? What if they were associated with a credit card or a PayPal account that no one realized you had?
What if the only way to cancel the app or subscription or service is to log into an online account using the associated user name and password which no one knows except you?
Needless to say, some people’s cyber lives may be more extensive and … er… more colorful(?) … than other people’s, so making a full disclosure at the dinner table might be less than appealing and frankly unnecessary.
However, in the age of heightened cyber security where passwords are no longer your birthdate or the name of your pet and cannot be guessed, it is a good idea to keep all the information that someone might need access to in order to put your affairs in order if you were gone in a sealed envelope with your other personal documents, and at the very least encourage the person you live with to do the same.
By Robin Trimingham