secure smartphones

How Can Physicians Secure Smartphones?

As a result of TextPower’s entry into the web site security industry through the TextKey™ product we are frequently asked questions about security in general and, in some cases, with specific applications in mind. Secure smartphones are especially on people’s minds.

Recently we were asked:

“How can physicians encrypt their smartphones and/or the patient data on them to help prevent a data breach if the phone is lost? Is the capability built in to the hardware for some phones? If not, what are good third-party options?”

The question, of course, arises now because physicians are moving quickly towards the use of smartphones and tablets as their tools of choice instead of clipboards and paper records.  With the advances in efficiency and technology the question of security is a logical one… there’s nothing more sensitive than someone’s health and medical records.

There are a lot of possible answers to the question about secure smartphones, particularly for physicians, but in taking the “simpler is better” approach, we have responded with the following and thought you might like to know.  It doesn’t involve TextKey™ at all, because we believe that there’s a correct tool for every job and in this particular case the right tool doesn’t involve text messaging.

Here’s our reply:

Encrypting secure smartphones and the data on them isn’t practical or possible. There are three simple, free and highly effective ways to protect data on a smartphone.

  1. Set the phone to lock automatically whenever the screen is off, either having been turned off manually by the user or because the phone has been idle.  Also, the “Idle before password” setting should be set to “Immediate” or the absolute minimum allowable time before the password is required.
  2. Data that is kept in the cloud and accessed through an app on the phone offers another layer of security because each of the cloud apps allows another password.  If you are accessing patient files through a Dropbox account, for example, you can set up the Dropbox app to require another password when it is opened.
  3. Finally, all phones have the ability to sync their data with a computer or to the cloud.  It’s essential to do this for backup purposes but also helps with security.  Why? Because iPhones have a built-in app called “Find My iPhone” and Droids offer third-party solutions like “Android Lost” and “Mobile Defense” that allow the user to delete all of the phone’s data remotely.  If the phone is lost, knowing that the data has been synced makes the decision to “wipe” the phone easy.

If you have any questions about security – whether it involves TextKey™, authentication, identity management or other areas, contact us.  We’ll try to answer your question as quickly and directly as we can.