Tips for Maintaining Cyber Security During COVID-19

As a therapist working for a group private practice, I transitioned to virtual tele-health sessions, literally, overnight. While we moved to a HIPAA-compliant tele-health software tool, that first morning, it wasn’t a seamless experience for either me or my clients. 

I had trouble creating tele-health appointments and sharing links. Clients had trouble accessing the portal. In a scramble to accommodate schedules and maintain normalcy during these early, confusing days, I resorted to using other, more familiar video platforms, meeting on Skype, Google Hangout and FaceTime. And while that may have worked in a pinch, and thankfully didn’t have any negative consequences, a public service announcement issued last month from the FBI underscores why HIPAA-compliant tele-health tools are so vitally important, particularly during COVID-19. 

 As the FBI reports, there have been thousands of complaints related, specifically, to COVID-19. There are scams and cyber actors working to target medical facilities, among other institutions, and take advantage of businesses and individuals working from home. 

The FBI goes on to warn and educate that less secure video platforms are vulnerable to eavesdropping and recording private information. This is particularly important to note, because as clinicians, we have an ethical responsibility to protect clients’ confidentiality and the personal details they share in session. In creating safe spaces emotionally and physically, we need to also consider cyber safety as equally important.

Below are some actions the FBI suggests taking and being aware of: 

Do: 

  • Select trusted and reputable telework software vendors; conduct additional due diligence when selecting foreign-sourced vendors.
  • Restrict access to remote meetings, conference calls, or virtual classrooms, including the use of passwords if possible.
  • Beware of social engineering tactics aimed at revealing sensitive information. Make use of tools that block suspected phishing emails or allow users to report and quarantine them.
  • Beware of advertisements or emails purporting to be from telework software vendors.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites or manually type it into the browser.

Don’t:

  • Share links to remote meetings, conference calls, or virtual classrooms on open websites or open social media profiles.
  • Open attachments or click links within emails from senders you do not recognize.

Motivo knows the importance of cyber security as well. Supervisors and supervisees can feel confident using our software. Motivo utilizes a third-party tele-health portal for all clinical supervision sessions and has a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with a third-party tele-health platform, which provides HIPAA-compliant protection measures throughout the site.

And in a time of uncertainty and unknowns, staying informed and cyber savvy is one way we can help assure those we help that they are safe in our care. 

Are you a tele-health provider with cyber safety tips to share? Let us know! Email emily@wearemotivo.com to share your ideas.

Emily Donahue

Emily Donahue

Emily Donahue holds a Master's in Mental Health Counseling from Northwestern University. She works as a limited permit therapist at a private practice in Brooklyn, earning her clinical and supervision hours for full licensure. She has a special interest in women and alcohol use and her dream is to meet Irvin Yalom one day.

We’re bringing clinical supervision to the future. Join us on this journey.

Every week or so, we’ll publish an article that covers some aspect of clinical supervision  — whether that’s licensure, best practices, tips and tricks, new regulations, and more!

Clinical supervision is changing every single day. Sign up to the right so you don’t miss a single update 👉