Password Sharing

Yes, we should guard our passwords like gold bars in Fort Knox. But at the same time, it’s prudent for individuals to ensure trusted people have access to their accounts. We discussed it before, but it’s worth doing it again, especially when it can prevent more heartache with the death of a loved one or a catastrophic event.

Password problems crop up all the time for both commercial and individual clients. They can be annoying, especially when spouses or kids constantly forget passwords, sending you on a hunt. They can be disruptive, especially when an employee leaves and you need to change passwords for accounts they used for your business. They can be downright heart-rending, especially when you need to handle the affairs of family members or friends who have become incapacitated or have passed away.

That last group of problems takes on particular urgency because you’re out there alone. There’s nobody to help you know what to look for and where to find it – especially while you’re working in a highly emotional atmosphere.

All these problems are avoidable, with or without technological solutions.

Unfortunately, we learned about the non-tech side of it when our friend committed suicide. In his deep depression, he knew his family would be devastated. Yet he had the presence to leave detailed information about what his survivors would need to close his affairs and carry on with their lives. It probably made things easier, though nobody involved could know how much while dealing with their grief.

Because we depend on website access to manage just about every aspect of our personal and professional lives, a trusted person or small group of people must have complete information for all usernames and passwords. The info can be on a list that’s printed out or written in a notebook and stored in a safe place. Most of you probably have a fireproof storage box or a safe for important documents such as birth certificates or passports anyway. There’s nothing wrong with hard copies.

However, we can’t emphasize strongly enough that you can set up a password manager with a family-and-friends feature that solves just about all password and web-based account access problems. You only need to remember one strong master password to access all your websites. We like Dashlane for its reliability and ease of use, but it’s not the only one. And regardless of whether it’s for personal/family use or business, certain principles still apply.

Here’s what to look for:

  1. The ability to work across multiple devices and platforms. Everyone depends on being able to use computers, phones, tablets, and even smart watches seamlessly. Many people use Windows, Apple, and Android systems individually and in corporate networks. Your password manager must be able to work on all devices and platforms.
  2. Facial recognition. We believe this is the most efficient biometric for speed and security, especially when you’re on the go and using a mobile device. In some cases, you don’t even need your master password. That’s a great convenience.
  3. The ability to share passwords with a family-and-friends capability or a corporate plan. Whether it’s another annoying request from a family member or a critical request from a business associate who needs instant access, you can find the password they need and give it to them. It can also make it much easier to oversee the affairs of loved ones when necessary.

We look forward to the day when biometrics or some other technology will eliminate the need for passwords. When that day comes, all of our information will be more secure, and easier to access our websites and online accounts. Until that day comes, a password manager is your best bet to handle everyday online life and emergencies.

We can help you select the password manager that best meets your needs, and we can help you configure an individual plan or a multi-user plan. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs or for configuration help.

Unlocking Phones of Masked Users

Apple’s upcoming upgrade to iOS 14.5 will make it possible to use an Apple Watch to use facial recognition to unlock your iPhone while wearing your mask. iPhone users without the watch and Android users will still have to jump through hoops to unlock their phones while masked. A year into the pandemic, we have to ask: Why has this taken so long?

Biometrics have long played a role in being able to unlock a cell phone. The first systems used a fingerprint for touch ID, and it has been a bellwether. Many cell phone users still rely on it. Face ID came along next, and many cell phone users rely on it to unlock phones quickly and easily. It’s as good as unencumbered gets.

But with COVID-19 and mask wearing, Face ID doesn’t work. If you want to use the technology while complying with public health needs, Face ID is about as cumbersome as it gets. The less-than-ideal workaround is something like this:

  1. Go to the Face ID option in the settings.
  2. Register for an alternate appearance by going to Set Up Alternate Appearance (or the Reset Face ID).
  3. Take a mask and fold it in half. Assuming the nose as the center point, put it in front of your face. It is recommended that you cover only the tip of the nose with the mask.
  4. Start registering your face like you normally do with the Face ID.  When the system prompts with a message “Face Obstructed,” start removing the mask very slowly until the system says move your head slowly to complete the circle.
  5. Once the process is done successfully, you will get a message that the Face ID is set up.

If this doesn’t work the first time, you’ll need to retry it. You may need to try another trick, such as selecting an alternate appearance option if it’s available.

Apple contends you should use a numeric code to unlock your phone while wearing a mask. They also note that manipulating the Face ID software could compromise your phone’s security. Most likely, they’d prefer you get an Apple Watch if you don’t already have.  

Once your iPhone is running iOS 14.5 and your Apple Watch has WatchOS 7.4 installed, you can turn on Unlock with Apple Watch with a few taps. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and then select Face ID & Passcode. Next, scroll down until you find the section titled Unlock with Apple Watch. The name of your Apple Watch should be listed there. Next to it is a toggle to turn the feature on or off. Slide that switch to the On position and then back out of the Settings app. 

Whenever you’re wearing a mask, all you’ll need to do is hold your phone up as normal to unlock it with Face ID. You’ll feel a haptic tap on your wrist, letting you know your watch was used to unlock your phone. The alert on your watch will also include a button to lock your phone in case it was unlocked by someone else. It’s a security feature to ensure someone else doesn’t pick up your phone and unlock it while wearing a mask.

You can expect to see iOS 14.5 in April. As the release date gets closer, we’ll pass along whatever we find out about other security features. Once it’s available, we’ll be on hand to help you configure your watch, phone and iPad if need be. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to find out what you’ll need to upgrade your iOS security.