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Is my Flash Drive Encrypted?
How many of us carry in our bags, back backs, or purses flash drives to store-in clients' information, or our counselor students’ supervision tape recordings? And we do that of course because a flash drive is easy to carry with us wherever we go!
But the question is, have you ever wondered if your flash drive is HIPAA compliant, aka encrypted?
Now, maybe a few of you wonder “well why is this important” or “no way I loose things, I am very careful”!
Well, what might happen if you do lose your flash drive which may contain your clients’ clinical notes, or personal information from your sessions, or maybe it contains your practicum or internship students’ session recordings? And it is all good if you accidentally left your flash drive at a safe place like your home or office….but have you wondered what might happen if you have not left it at a safe place and it ends up in a wrong person’s hands? Then what? You start thinking about ethical issues, confidentiality and the list goes on and on!
All these are good questions; but the main one is “What do I do to ensure that all my files are secure? How do I protect myself, my clients or supervisees information or supervision recordings from any unauthorized use?”
So below I am offering information/suggestions in regards to what you need to look on an encrypted flash drive. Because if you do want to safeguard all the information and have peace of mind at the end of your day, your flash drive should be HIPAA compliant.
1. Is my flash drive password protected?
There are flash drives currently out in the market which offer three ways of password protection; some of them have a numerical keypad which is located on the device, some other ask for an admin password that the user will need to enter every time he or she plugs-in the flash drive device to a computer source, and some other work with fingerprint recognition.
Well, lucky you there is! If you are comfortable with using advanced technology, Microsoft corporation offers a free (yes, you read it well!), free encryption software that you can download and install it to your flash drive. The encryption software is named BitLocker and more information about the product can be found by clicking here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=7806 . Also I am listing a YouTube link for a step-by-step guide of how to install the software: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLh0jSfv6jA . The downside of the BitLocker though is that is only designed for Windows operating systems. So in case you are an Apple product user and a lover (like me), just e-mail Apple customer support and fuss at them!
There is also a very good video on YouTube entitled “How to password protect a flash drive”, with a step-by-step guide of how to password protect your flash drive that will work with both Microsoft and Apple operating systems! The link to the video is provided here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOeLmr94i5I
Besides the password protection that we discussed earlier, a HIPAA complainant flash drive is also equipped with a feature that if the unauthorized person fails to enter the correct password (usually after 5 or 10 attempts), the flash drive will automatically erase all information so you can have peace of mind and rest well at night without having to start freaking out. Cool eh? Just make sure to have a separate device (i.e. flash drive, or external hard drive), preferably at your home or office, where every week you can back-up all the information stored in your main flash drive.
That’s a good question! It depends (you must be wondering what in the earth I am talking about). Well it depends what exactly are you looking for. Currently there HIPAA flash drives with a price range starting $30.00 all the way up to $200.00 or more.
I sure do! A few examples can be found on the links that I am providing to you below:
Now, you should be good to go and rest with a peace of mind that all your information is kept secure and confidential! :-)
You have questions or comments? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
SACES social media co-chair
SACES Technology Interest Network
The University of New Orleans
Counselor Education program