A Tale of Hacking to Gain Access to a Digital Life After a Loved One’s Death

Phone Passcode

In a letter to the editor at the New York Times Dr. Leslie Berlin recounts the untimely death of her Mom in a car accident. Dr. Berlin provides a detailed account of the steps she had to take to gain access to the central location of her Mom’s digital life which resided on her phone, as it does for so many of us right today.

It’s a poignant story that uncovers many situations we don’t ever expect to experience, but then realize the importance of planning for such situations. The story does provide a novel solution towards accessing information she otherwise may never have been able to when she solicited the help of an Apple employee.

Eventually I found a savior — a young employee at an Apple Store. I explained to him that I had Mom’s login ID (an email address) and the password for her Apple account, but I couldn’t override the two-factor authentication. He asked me to enter the login and password, and he grimaced when her locked phone lit up with the authentication code we could not see. Then his expression changed. “Let’s try her SIM card,” he said.

The novel process that follows leads to her ability to gain access to all of her Mom’s critical accounts but the process is bittersweet as the success in these actions end up leading to a new set of anguish in the thought of viewing the data that has been unlocked.

It’s an interesting story with lessons to be learned. The story has elicited 173 comments as of this writing which cover many interesting stories that are similar and related topics worth reading. You can read the full article here.

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