Cyber security, password protection; it’s in the news every day. As a small business owner, you likely conduct much of your business online and want to make sure your information is protected from malware, hackers, and other security risks. We all know we need to have strong passwords and change them on a regular basis. But keeping it all up-to-date can quickly get out of hand. And if you are diligent about updating your passwords there is another risk that most of us don’t want to think about. If you should become incapacitated or suddenly pass away, will your family members, partners or executors be able to access your online information and accounts?

According to a recent survey, only about 45% of us keep an updated password list. That is important, particularly for financial accounts, as many organizations will not give access to or make it tough for family members or a representative to gain access to a decedent’s accounts. Such situations often prove to be extremely time-consuming and problematic.

Include a password manager

There are a couple of options for tackling this issue. You can create a list of all of your online accounts including login information. Of course, you’ll need to keep it updated as you change passwords and add new accounts. And you’ll need to make sure the people who need to know also have access to your list. Don’t forget to include login URLs, username, device, any secret security questions and answers, notes about which items are case sensitive, etc.

With this approach, the obvious question becomes, how do you keep this list secure? You probably need access it on a regular basis so you’ll keep it handy. But it can be difficult to keep it both handy and secure.

To make this task easier, you may want to consider one of the online password managers that are available. These tools allow you to create one master password to login to your password manager. Once in, you have access to all of your other accounts and login information so you really only need to remember one password. And you only need to give your family members, partners, etc. the information for your password manager account.

If you don’t already have a password manager account, there are plenty to choose from. Here is a short list of the more popular and ones and those recently featured in a PC Magazine article.

  • Lass Pass
  • Dashlane
  • KeePass
  • RoboForm
  • PasswordBox

I currently use RoboForm. You can install the RoboForm Desktop on as many PCs as you want and maintain a single online list of passwords and form-filling data. You can access the online data directly, but you don’t get full control without installing the Desktop edition. It can take a little time to get everything set up, but it is time well spent. If you have any questions, give me a call.

Randy Randy J. Elder, CPA, P.C.

With nearly three decades of professional experience in public accounting, Randy provides his tax and accounting expertise to new and small businesses in a casual and friendly environment. Before founding Randy J. Elder, CPA, P.C., he held various positions with an international accounting firm, and with regional and local CPA firms. Randy earned his Arizona CPA license in 1988, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from Northern Arizona University.

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