Visit to the Eye Doctor Brings Data Security in View
“How is it an improvement?” I asked and my doctor explained that now he can move the letters around so patients can’t memorize the order on the chart. When he left to get the test results being churned out of other high-tech medical equipment in another room, I pondered first about who would try to memorize an eye chart. After 10 or so seconds on that topic, I turned to look at all of the fancy equipment in the office.
When it comes to ophthalmic equipment, I don’t know a digital retinal camera from a portable applanation tonometer, but I know that these sophisticated pieces of equipment are advanced cousins of the computers we use every day. And they likely retain data. I don’t know what value some stranger might get from reviewing the results of my visual field test, but it just serves as a good reminder that information about us resides in a lot of technology and we don’t always know what happens to it when the equipment reaches the end of its lifecycle.
Just as my optometrist tossed out his old Snellen eye chart and replaced it with a computerized version, a lot of businesses don’t consider what happens to their retired equipment and the data that it retains. Everything from copiers and scanners to printers and fax machines hold on to images, so that any sensitive or personally identifiable information that passed through it lives on. Obviously, the same goes for every laptop or desktop computer.
When disposing of old IT equipment, always go with a recycler or refurbisher that will wipe all existing data from the machine. Otherwise, you mind end up like I did when messing around with the examination chair’s hydraulic elevation system in the doctor’s absence, which carried me up toward the ceiling and wouldn’t bring me down. That is to say, high and dry.