The Danger of Cleaning House

PANICI had to share something that came up in a support call yesterday. It’s either really horrible or incredibly funny depending on your point of view.

We received a panicked call from someone trying desperately to access an eWallet file that they didn’t know the password for. This isn’t all that unusual. We all know that it’s easy to forget the “really good” password you came up with (one of the things that makes eWallet so handy!) The problem of course is that eWallet, being a secure information manager, really IS secure. If you forget your password there is NO backdoor, NO way to reset the password, and NO reasonable way to hack the wallet*.

In this case though, the problem was that Company A bought out Company B and laid off all the IT staff from Company B. Unfortunately for “A”, the IT staff at “B” stored all the vital IT info in eWallet and no one bothered to ask them for the password when they laid everybody off.

Needless to say, panic ensued. As a person who knows how bad it would be if we lost access to all our passwords, I can feel their pain…but on the other hand, as a guy who has seen his friends dumped out on the street during a merger, I can’t help but snicker.

* There are numerous articles about hacking 256-bit encryption. Estimates to do so typically involve a few hundred thousand computers linked together and working continuously for tens of thousands of years. Yeah…pick a good password and you’re all set.

2 thoughts on “The Danger of Cleaning House

  1. Kay

    Ouch. Nothing else to say really.

    Maybe a good idea to include a note in future contracts that forces people to give up the password or at least help with its retrieval even if they were laid off.

  2. Dave Beauvais

    This is one side of a phone conversation that takes place after someone with that clause in their contract is fired:

    “Oh, you’re calling from Company A? … Yes, I worked in the IT department at Company B; what do you want? … The password to the eWallet file? Hmm… I can’t seem to remember it; it’s been so long since your company kicked me to the curb, it must have slipped my mind. Tell ya what… leave me your phone number and if I remember the password, I’ll be sure to call you back. … What do you mean ‘sarcastic?’ … Yes, I’m pretty sure I can’t remember the password. … Okay, well you have a super nice day and feel free to call me again if I can be of any more help to your wonderful company.”

    :D

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