Securing My Personal Digital Assets

Some questions to ponder:

  • If your house burned down, with all your computers inside, how much critical data would you and your family lose?
  • What if you were hit by the bus, could your family still do everything they needed to do? Would they even know which bills to pay on-line every month?

It struck me recently after finishing up my Raspberry Pi Pool Timer project: to change the schedule, a username and password is needed. And to administer the device, one needs the correct ssh key. What if I was hit by the bus? How would my family even change the schedule?

It appears we need a more systematic way of protecting valuable personal digital assets than the “I think it was on that hard drive in such and such a folder” that we have done so far. It’s certainly true for my family but we are hardly a unique case. This should include off-site, redundant storage with some kind of “break the glass” functionality that trusted people could get at it in case of an emergency, while obviously protecting the data from everybody else. It should also make it hard for thieves to leverage the information on our hard drives to compromise on-line accounts etc.

Looking at my own data, here are some things I’d hate to lose, either to thieves or to oblivion:

  • family pictures
  • certain scanned documents (e.g. marriage certificate)
  • certain medical records
  • address book
  • usernames and passwords for countless websites and accounts
  • a number of ssh and gpg private keys

Looking around the web, I have not come across anything that “nailed it”. (I even asked some professionals and they didn’t come up with much.) Which is surprising because we’re hardly unique here. How do you all solve this problem?

Update April 6, 2013: There’s an interesting discussion thread about this on the personal clouds mailing list.

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