02BD0: Dead Phone Day

Monday Thanator (Avatar)

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 968

So just as we were heading to bed last night, my phone screen stop responding. Or to be precise, it stopped turning on. Tobie could still call my phone and I actually managed to take a screenshot of my phone's desktop but I just couldn't get the screen to turn back on. And it's funny since it was working right before we decided to call it a night and I closed up my computer and moved to the bedroom. 

Tobie and I went through a few basic troubleshooting steps like rebooting the device and trying to get the phone to load in recovery mode, but not having an active screen really invalidated a lot of this. Most of the articles we had read all agreed that this was more typically due to physical damage from a fall or moisture in the device and my phone has fallen many times and we had just gone through the artificial waterfalls of the Cloud Forest and the splashing from the DUCKtour vehicle entering the water so anything was possible.

Losing access to one's phone is always a bad thing, especially with how so many 2-factor authentication methods rely on you having your phone on you. Sure, my older S8 back at home is still logged into my accounts and should be able to access most of my stuff if pressed. But for right now, my phone dying is a really bad thing since so much of my life is tied to it. 

My main source of trepidation is how I have 2-factor authentication active for almost every online service I have and how I default to my authenticator app instead of SMS codes. In addition, my personal browser instance is configured to clear all cookies upon exit, so I'd need 2-factor codes for all services every time I boot up my computer. And the best bit is that all of my passwords are controlled by LastPass and even that has 2-factor authenticator tied to my phone. The cherry on top is that the only way to circumvent 2-factor authentication for LastPass is to receive an email via my primary account...whose password is managed by LastPass.

Tobie helped to calm me down long enough to go through the necessary steps to get set up. At the very least, my work accounts were still logged in since I hadn't configured my work-related browser instance to clear cookies every time, so I'd at least be able to work. Then I just had to accept that I needed to reset my primary email password using my work email as my recovery email address and then I'd be able to get back into LastPass and be able to breathe easier. This worked and I managed to temporarily move my SIM to Tobie's phone to get a few SMS-based OTPs just to get everything logged in. It's a good thing I keep my backup codes via online notebook services (both OneNote and Notion) that sync to dedicated desktop apps on my computer that helped to facilitate things well enough.

After work, we went to Funan to find someone to check out the phone and without thoroughly examining the device he stated that we'd need to replace the screen. It should only take a day and I;ll have my phone back by tomorrow and the tech said there's no need to reboot the device to factory settings, so I should still be logged in. Major thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for helping me through all this. 

I know a lot of my trouble today is related to my own security precautions. It's not terrible in itself - it just makes things a bit more difficult and I accept this added level of challenge for my digital life if it means my accounts are more secure. I do see gaps in my current setup such as how my LastPass was primarily tied to an email account also managed by LastPass and things of that nature. Plus I don't have backup codes for all of my services properly documented, so I'm going to work on that when I get my phone back. And maybe the last backup is to keep a phone that's still logged into my stuff as an alternate 2-factor device provided it's still synced to all my active accounts - something I also need to update as needed. 

My current system has its share of challenges, but it's functional enough. And today was one heck of a test of everything.