Even before the government order, custom-designed apps for online medical consultations were already seeing a spike in usage from people wary of visiting a doctor in person, Jon Pearce, CEO of the telemedicine firm Zipnosis, told Tonya.
“We’ve seen a 100-fold increase in utilization this past week have not had cybersecurity incidents,” he said.
The administration also urged doctors to “notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks” and notes that “providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes.”
Cybersecurity experts, however, recommended that doctors focus on using apps such as Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp that have superstrong encryption as a default rather than walking patients through how to enable the protections.
“I think about telling my elderly aunts how to enable encryption before a video chat and they’d say, ‘What does that mean?’ ” Tony Cole, chief technology officer at the cybersecurity firm Attivo Networks, told me. “It’s better to have very strong security built in.”
Apple, Google and Facebook didn’t respond to requests for comment about whether the White House consulted them before releasing the relaxed rules or whether they would be sharing any specific guidance or best practices with doctors.