Data Security is Important. But so is Peace of Mind. Don´t Lock Yourself Out From Your own Password Vault.


It has happened to me.

My iPhone went Missing

I thought that I have lost my iPhone. At least I could not find it anymore.

It was Sunday morning. The last time that I consciously saw it was two days ago, Friday evening after work.

And now I need my iPhone because I have a very useful Bible app on it that I am regularly using for Sunday morning church services.

I have been to a lot of places since Friday evening, and I had taken several taxi rides. I don´t use my iPhone much for non-work related matters, so I could have left it anywhere along the way.

Starting The Search and Rescue

I have first called my iPhone, hoping that I would hear it ringing somewhere in my house. Nothing. Nobody picked up either, which is also a good sign. I already feared that I would hear someone talking in a language that is not spoken in Singapore, which will mean that my iPhone has been found (or stolen) and already been shipped overseas.

Then I tried to locate it, using the "Find my iPhone" online service

In order to use the "Find my iPhone" online service, one must login to the Apple iCloud. A login is required for that and a password. While I could remember my iCloud login, I did not remember my password. It goes without saying that I do not remember it. It is very long, according my little article about safe passwords, here

My iCloud Password is locked Up

Remember? I am using a Secure Password Vault on my iPhone for storing my passwords there, as described in my little article here

Now let the following story melt on your tongue.

My iCloud password is stored in my Secure Password Vault, which is on my iPhone, which is lost.

So there is no "Find my iPhone" service for me right now, until I have access to iCloud.

Alternative Way #1 to Access iCloud: Credit Card Information

The iCloud service allows for alternative logins via the credit card data that is used to pay for the extended cloud storage. I had my credit with me, but I have scratched off its CVV number, as suggested as a security measure in my little article here

And the CVV number of my credit card is stored in my Secure Password Vault, which is on my iPhone, which is lost.

So there is no access to iCloud for me right now.

Alternative Way #2 to Access iCloud: Trusted Phone Numbers

The iCloud service also allows for alternative logins via trusted phone numbers.

And now guess, what was the trusted phone number which I had assigned to my iCloud account, when I created it 10 years ago? Correct, it was the phone number of my iPhone that went missing.

I had no other trusted phone number assigned, although I could have assigned all phone numbers of my other family members as trusted phone numbers.

So there is no access to iCloud for me right now.

Alternative Way #3 to Access iCloud: Apple Service Center

This works but it will take some days until you get a new iCloud password.

No iCloud password means no access to "Find my iPhone", and that means no iPhone.

No iCloud password also means no access to my iPhone backup data, which in turn means no access to all my other password in the backup of my Secure Password Vault.

I have finally Found my iPhone Again

I have simply misplaced it. It was switched to silent mode. That was why I did not hear it ringing.

I found it by thinking. I tried to remember when I saw my iPhone the last time. This was two days ago. Then I tried to remember where I have been since then and what I have done at each location. This was not easy. But it worked.

I was in a Sunday morning Church Service, when I did that thinking. That is not what one would want to do in a church service, but I could not focus on the pastor´s sermon anyway. I was too worried about the question what I would do without my passwords over the coming days.

I realized that I am literally dependent on online services that need a password.

What I did after Finding my iPhone

My first action after finding my iPhone was to assign another phone number as additional trusted phone number in iCloud. This gives me a backdoor to a backup of my Secure Password Vault, which is done automatically from my iPhone.

The second action was to manually initiate uploading of the encrypted .kdx file with my passwords from the KeyPass app on my iPhone to another cloud file storage service. It can be accessed there from any other installation of KeyPass. That gives me a manual extra backup. I will renew it every now and then in the future. That way at least I some of my passwords, even if the iPhone gets lost again.

Call to Action

If you have liked my little story then do a little fire drill yourself and pretend that you have lost your mobile phone.

Try to remember when you have have consciously seen your mobile phone the last time before the fire drill started. Then, going backwards, try to remember where you have been since then and what you have done at each location. You can stop with that part of the fire drill once you realize that this is not easy.

Then try to access the data which is stored on the mobile phone without using the mobile phone itself. Identify which data is automatically backed up and which one is not. And then try to access the data from within the backup copy.

And after that: close the gaps that you have identified.

Start now.

Martin “Don´t Panic” Schweiger

Visit my site,, for the latest information on tips and tricks that help IP lawyers saving time and money.

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Martin Schweiger