What is an "If I Go Missing" file / folder?

An "If I Go Missing" file (or folder) is essentially a set of data that can be used to help locate you in the event you go missing. This can be from an accident or even something more sinister.

This is one of those things that you hope you never have to use but in the event you or a loved one goes missing it can be life saving.

As investigators often say, the first 48 hours of a missing persons case is crucial. The ability to track that persons locations, spending, who they spoke with, who they texted with, any social media interactions, etc. is absolutely vital information that can help any investigation.

The idea of an "If I Go Missing" file was popularized by the Crime Junkie podcast though the original idea appears to have originated else where. Either way, the usefulness and utility of such information is undeniable and police all over the world are recommending that people create these files.

What goes into an "If I Go Missing" file?

Here is a question on Quora specifically asking what people should include in such a file. There is no real limit but some important items are:

  • Usernames / Passwords (and 2FA recovery codes) for your banking, credit cards, social media, Apple/Google, cell phone provider, etc. accounts.
  • Physical information such as birth date (age), sex, height, hair and eye color
  • Recent photos of yourself, your drivers license, and your passport.
  • Vehicle information such as make and model, plate numbers, vin, insurance policy number
  • Health information such as blood type and any known medical issues or allergies.
  • Any specific worries you may have. For example anyone that is harassing you, any odd situations you may have recently noticed, any troubling events happening within your relationships, etc.

Essentially you want to provide helpful information for investigators to follow.

The problem: Insecure "If I Go Missing" files

Clearly an "If I Go Missing" file will contain extremely private and sensitive data. You need to be able to trust that people will not access this information unless it's absolutely required.

The issue with a physical copy of this information is there is no security for the file. An upset or jealous partner may just open the file and access your email. Maybe an overbearing parent will read their college students private text messages. This is a huge invasion of privacy.

It can also be just as dangerous if the wrong person gets their hands on this information. Maybe a controlling presence or a burglar gets your file and now you can be a victim of an array of different crimes, such as identity theft.

The solution: End-to-end encrypted "If I Go Missing" files

At HelpYouFind.Me we wanted a way to provide the data that belongs in an "If I Go Missing" file to your trusted contacts but only via a set of rules that you can set. And set these rules for each unique person your sharing your data with.

We built the system to securely encrypt your data, in your web browser, specifically for the intended recipient and you can set how/when the recipient can access this data.

The system will only ever have your data in it's encrypted form, meaning that we can never access your private data. It also means that anyone who wants to access your private data will need to:

  1. Have specific permission from you to do so.
  2. Wait the specified wait period that you set for this person to access it.
  3. The person can only access it if you specifically approve their request OR
  4. The wait period expires (meaning you were unable to respond to the request).

If all of the above requirements are met, the system will release the data that was specifically encrypted for the recipient. They will then use their own encryption password to decrypt the data. They will be the only person who will be able to decrypt this copy because it was specifically encrypted for them.

How does the encryption process work?

This is a fairly complex topic but we will try to explain it as plainly as possible.

The encryption scheme is based on private keys and public keys, these are known as key-pairs. Each HYFM user will have both sets of keys created when they create their account. A password will be required to generate these keys.

Data is then encrypted using the public key of the recipient of this data. The recipient can then only decrypt it using their private key, and their private key can not be obtained without knowing their key password.

So let's say Mary want's to share private data with Joe. Mary will encrypt her private data using Joe's public key and send Joe the result. Joe will then take that encrypted data and decrypt it using his private key to get access to the private data that Mary had sent.

The power of HYFM is that you store your private data, totally encrypted with YOUR KEYS (so we never have access to it!), and when you want to share your data with someone else, you use your password to decrypt your private data, make a copy of it, encrypt it using the recipients public key, and send the encrypted data to them.

All of this is managed automatically within with HYFM infrastructure and only requires user interaction or input when you need to provide your encryption key password.

Note: This was taken straight from our FAQ page, please see that page for more detail.