In Consultation


What If Your Mobile Device Went Missing? The Importance of Tracking our Technologies

July/August 2012


Q: How do I ensure that my clients' privacy and confidentiality are protected if I lose my smartphone or laptop?

A: Like many of our most useful objects-think wallets, keys, or umbrellas-our smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices are easy to lose or misplace. In the United States, 113 mobile phones are lost per minute, as widely cited on the web. Every week, 1,200 laptops are lost, missing, or stolen at Los Angeles Airport, according to Airport Insecurity, a 2008 study conducted by the Ponemon Institute. In 2005, Perry Garfinkel of The New York Times reported on a study carried out by the Chicago-based mobile-data protection software company Pointsec Mobile Technologies. It included the number of mobile devices left in the taxis of a single Chicago cab company during the last six months of 2004: 387 mobile phones, 97 PDAs and pocket PCs, and 20 laptops. Extrapolating from those figures to all of Chicago's 25,000 cabs means that approximately 85,619 mobile phones, 21,460 PDAs and Pocket PCs, and 4,425 laptops were left in the city's taxis during those few months.

If you're a psychotherapist who uses any portable device to communicate with or about patients, it's vitally important to assess confidentiality risks and implement data security before a theft or loss occurs. Although no security is 100 percent foolproof, you can make reasonable and appropriate efforts to protect confidential…

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3 Comments

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 12:30:15 AM | posted by Ellen Faulk
Alli,

This is just terrific! Congratulations. This is a service to all of us. Thanks for taking the time to write this article. Best. Ellen

Monday, July 30, 2012 2:33:25 AM | posted by Alex Kinder
Thank you Alli for your wisdom!

Alex

Friday, August 10, 2012 11:22:17 PM | posted by Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D.
This is an excellent article, clearly well-researched and very thought-provoking. Like some of the people mentioned in the article, I realize that I can take further measures to protect the confidentiality of my patients and their information. I appreciate the timeliness of the article, and look forward to more from this author.

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