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Google accounts have a "Digital Legacy" feature, where accounts that go inactive for a long period (3 months, 6 months, etc.) and do not respond to alerts will eventually trigger Inactive Acccount Notifications to select recipients. If I stop logging into accounts because of death or some other obstacle to daily digital activity, select people get notified of the inactivity and (using two-factor authentication with their phone # I designate) can access select data.

If I want that feature to hand the keys to my entire digital life over to one or more people, it seems like I'd want a way to hand them the keys to my password manager as well. Google's Digital Legacy can grant access to Google Drive and Gmail. Thus the question: Is it relatively safe to store my password manager's login credentials in a Gmail draft or Google Doc? Is one safer than the other? That way, in the Inactive Account notice to these recipients, I could instruct them to search for the draft email or Google Doc that gives them access to the rest of my accounts.

To my amateur sense, it seems like a Gmail draft is as secure as my email account itself, which is one of my most secure online accounts after my password manager (both have very strong passwords and two-factor authentication). To get to my email, someone either needs this authorization through this Digital Legacy feature, or needs access codes to my laptop or phone where Gmail is already logged-in. I feel confident I can keep all that to only intended recipients. Gmail itself could be hacked, but all emails and drafts are encrypted(?)

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Is it relatively safe? Well, it depends on what you mean by relatively.

  • If you have 2 factor auth set up on your Google account and have a strong password, chances are low for someone to be able to login by themselves.
  • If you are a bit careless and leave your phone/tablet/laptop lying around with easy access for people, maybe they can just open the app and view the file if they know what they are looking for. They might just open it accidentally as well.
  • @SirMuffington pointed out in the comments that you are trusting Google and its employees to not view the files.

If you are open to exploring other options, there are existing questions that look for ways to share data after death:

Password managers have digital legacy features as well. You can just rely on them if your goal is to just pass on your passwords.

Say none of the above work for you. You can consider sharing the decryption key of your password manager passwords with your trusted contacts and then store the encrypted passwords in your draft/doc. This way, even if someone gains access to the draft/doc, they'll not be able to do much without the decryption key. Just make sure to use good encryption and keys.

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After reviewing the security policy on Google Docs from the google help center, I can say confidently that google docs and draft are as safe as the permissions you set on it as you decide who has access to their content.

That being said I would personally go with the google doc set to share with a specific person or a group of specific people as defined here.

The reason I would go with a google doc vs a gmail draft is that if you set everything to be deleted after inactivity for a certain period, the person whom you've granted access will have that time to download whatever. A google doc shared with the right permissions can be shared safely among a chosen few beyond that time if I'm not mistaken.

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    This does not take into account dangers from the inside from Google and similar threats... Feb 13, 2023 at 18:05
  • true as that maybe, the attack surface of this scenario is wider for this individual compared to to google's infrastructure. That's why to mitigate risk I believe the best course of action is identity and access management
    – PsudoJo
    Feb 13, 2023 at 18:49

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