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Google's Email Security Change Does Not Make Online Counseling Secure: Online Counseling Clients and Counselors Risk Confidentiality Breach
Date:1/29/2010

eCounseling Therapists Must Adopt More Stringent Security Protocols to Ensure Client Confidentiality.

(PRWEB) January 29, 2010 -- Google recently updated Gmail’s security standards. Users of the webmail service will notice that Gmail’s default URL setting has changed from HTTP:// to a more secure HTTPS:// location. However, this change has been misunderstood by some users. The HTTPS:// setting does not provide a solution for messages sent using Gmail to be ‘encrypted’. The new default HTTPS:// setting, by Google’s description, instead provides greater security when users are logged into their accounts while using public WIFI hotspots.

Dr. Anthony Centore, Founder of eCounseling.com, states “Many counselors don’t realize that while they and their clients need a password to access their respective email accounts, email is still inherently unsecure. When emails are sent between counselor and client, there are several places along the delivery pathway that an email could be opened and read by someone other than the intended recipient.”

An article on Wikipedia.org titled, “Email Privacy” provides a clear warning to email users, stating: “Because e-mail connects through many routers and mail servers on its way to the recipient, it is inherently vulnerable to both physical and virtual eavesdropping. Current industry standards do not place emphasis on security; information is transferred in plain text,…every e-mail leaves a digital papertrail in its wake that can be easily inspected months or years later.”

Ethical codes of counseling address this issue. The ethical code of the American Counseling Association (ACA), states in section A.12. Technology Applications, “When the use of encryption is not possible, counselors notify clients of this fact and limit electronic transmissions to general communications that are not client specific.” By this standard, the use of Gmail for online counseling, even with HTTPS:// protocols, still violates published ethical standards for online counseling.

As a way to provide a secure method of communication for online counseling, websites such as eCounseling.com have developed platforms where emails messages can be sent between counselor and client without the risks inherent in email. Instead of utilizing typical email delivery methods where messages travel across the internet, at eCounseling.com all communications are stored on a secure server and both counselor and client use assigned passwords to log in to the website. The website, utilizing secure socket layer technology, complies with the ethical standards of the ACA.

About eCounseling.com
eCounseling.com is the leading provider of online counseling and telephone counseling technologies, and exists to connect professional counselors to clients in need, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. eCounseling.com was created by counselors who perceived a need for better online counseling methods. Its founding directors include Dr. Anthony Centore, who practices therapy at Thrive Boston Counseling (thriveboston.com), and Ryan Neace, of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (aacc.net).

Contact
For more information, contact Dr. Anthony Centore, Founder of eCounseling.com, and licensed therapist practicing at Thrive Boston Therapy, in Cambridge, MA.

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/online-counseling/google-security-limits/prweb3530454.htm.


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