Meeting with your therapist from the comfort of your own home means there is no risk of exposing yourself to staff and walk-ins in the waiting room of a therapist's office, which some people find to be very unpleasant. Everyday millions of people trust their financial data to web based service providers, so it's no surprise that therapy has now also become a staple to the online space. But the question remains - Is my data safe?
The short answer is yes… as long as you follow basic online protocol you are generally safe from prying eyes. Through the years the topic of privacy has always managed to emerge when referencing the internet. More so when the topic is tied into personal data. With this in mind, computer manufacturers and software developers have made it their business to ensure that users remain safe online.
Billions of dollars and hundreds of hours have been pumped into these areas and as a result when you take the proper precautions, you are generally very safe when browsing the world wide web. Below we have put together some of the most effective precautions you can take online to make sure your private data does not fall into the wrong hands.
Section 1: Basic Online Security
Here are some basic protocols that should be followed by even the most nonchalant internet users to keep safe online:
Always Ensure Your Software and Browsers (Chrome, Firefox Etc) Are up to Date
Developers are constantly on the lookout for potential vulnerabilities in their various programs and continuously release fixes or updates when they find any. Many programs and browsers by default automatically update or at very least inform you that a new update is available when you run them. However, it’s a good idea to check every now and then to make sure your browsers and programs are up to date. more >
Always Have An Up to Date Firewall Running on Your Device
A firewall is basically a hardware or software-based network security system, that screens the information that enters your computer for your protection. Most computers come with a firewall already installed. However, like any other program it is always a great idea to make sure it is up to date to look out for emerging threats. Also, sometimes the firewall that comes with the computer can be a bit basic. A popular free (yet powerful) Firewall is 360 Total Security.
Always Have An Up to Date Antivirus Running on Your Device
Antiviruses prevent, detect and destroy computer viruses and other malicious software (Trojans, Worms etc). Computer viruses, Trojans and their destructive counterparts are some of the top culprits behind data theft. Although many computers come equipped with antiviruses, people often neglect to update them thus putting themselves at risk on the web. Occasional scans, coupled with checks to make sure your antivirus is up to date goes a long way toward protecting your computer’s data. Most companies that create firewalls also have matching antiviruses (eg: 360 Total Security).
Secure Your Passwords
This applies to things that you have password-protected eg: computer, email, tablet etc. Your password is your access key to your personal data so consideration should be taken to ensure you choose a good one. They should be difficult for people to guess but easy for you to remember. Try not to write it down or divulge it if you don’t have to. It is sometimes a good idea to include numbers, capital letters and/or characters (eg: -,!,@,#.$) to your password to make sure they are hard to crack. HICOL’s administration staff will never ask for your password. If ever you are contacted and asked for your password, contact us immediately to report this.
Always Remember To Exit the Tab When You Finish A Session
Since there are no complicated sign-ins, there is no need to log out, however, as a precaution you should always remember to exit the tab when you are finished using the service.
Avoid Suspicious Websites Or Links
Try not to visit suspicious websites or click suspicious links. Many times these are elaborate hoaxes meant to trick you into visiting dodgy websites or divulging your personal data. Chances are that you are NOT the One Millionth visitor and did NOT just win an all expense paid trip to Hawaii with spending money.
Do Not Type Your Personal Data Into A Public/Shared Computer
On public or shared computers (e.g. internet cafe, work), you stand a greater chance of your private data being intercepted. If you have to use a public/shared computer, be careful to avoid inputting your private data (passwords, personal information etc) as much as possible.
Do Not Trust Public/Unsecured Wifi With Your Sensitive Data
On public wifi you run the risk of someone intercepting your data through that unsecured network. If you must use public/unsecured wifi, you may want to take precautions such as using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Section 2: Additional Privacy Practices
Added to those in Section 1, here are some more protocols you can put in place to keep safe online:
At HICOL we have put stringent measures in place in an effort to ensure that your information is kept private and confidential. We use a SSL connection (https) with the highest level of encryption available to protect your sensitive data. SSL is used to establish a secure encrypted connection between a browser (your computer) and a server (our website). We utilize several types of premium grade software in an effort to ensure you remain safe while on the HICOL website. Additionally, our website is hosted on the world’s leading domain registrar, who also takes steps to ensure that websites hosted by them are kept safe.
All online Credit/Debit card payments (Visa, Mastercard etc) are made via PayPal, which has for many years been trusted by millions and considered by many to be one of the safest ways to conduct financial transactions online. We never have access to your financial information. Click HERE for more information on PayPal.
Online Therapy Sessions
All voice, video, file transfers and instant messages transpiring during HICOL’s sessions are encrypted end-to-end. This protects you from potential eavesdropping by malicious users. All video sessions use state of the art security and encryption protocols to assure that data integrity and privacy are maintained. As a result, it complies with HIPAA requirements, which are special privacy laws put in place in the US to ensure all client files are kept safe.
Third Party Security Verification
We make it our business to ensure that you remain safe while interacting with HICOL… but we don’t want you to just take our word for it. HICOL is consistently monitored by McAfee Secure® for malware, malicious links, and phishing attacks, and other things to ensure you remain safe on our website. At any time you can click on the McAfee symbol located on the bottom of every page to visit their website and verify our security status.
Note: All HICOL therapists are required to have up to date firewall, antivirus and anti-malware software installed.
Generally speaking, all psychologists have already entered into a field where it is not only frowned upon to disclose confidential information, but it is also illegal. With very few exceptions psychologists are in fact NOT ALLOWED to divulge any client information to third parties. As an additional safety precaution, every therapist and member of staff is required to sign a legally binding non-disclosure agreement available for viewing upon request.
All Physical Reports and Profiles Are Properly Secured
All therapists at HICOL are required to have any physical client data properly secured in a locked cabinet. Access to this cabinet is limited to ONLY that therapist.
Moral and Ethical Reinforcement
Therapists already know that unwarranted disclosure of client information may damage their reputation, ruin their career and lead to legal repercussions. We also strive to ensure that they know that it is their moral duty to keep all private information (physical or otherwise) 100% confidential.
Discrete and Private Location
HICOL therapists have a duty to host all online sessions in a quiet and private location and to ensure that a sign is displayed outside the therapy room so that psychologists at work are not disturbed.
PURCHASE, PERSONALIZE AND SEND... it's that simple
Give more than a physical gift... give the gift of wellbeing. You have the power to inspire a positive change in the life of someone you care about.