Fax machines are viewed as relics of the past, yet they remain choice technology in many industries. But are they truly secure? 

Fax machine security has been a hot topic in the last few years, especially as new security regulations are becoming stricter and have started scrutinizing organisations that work with personally identifiable data. Industries such as banking, legal, healthcare, as well as many government agencies are using fax machines daily. 

What’s more surprising is that faxing is actually on the rise. 

According to IDC’s findings from 2017, businesses that had YOY (year-over-year) growth also increased their fax usage by 27% on average! It’s actually expected to grow even more by 2020! 

Many organisations in such industries are struggling with switching to modern solutions, such as online faxing. Most of their concerns are related to online faxing safety, 

Human Error and Lack of Encryption 

The most common reason behind a data breach is human error. One misclick, or in case of a fax machine, misdial, is enough to bring lots of trouble.

It’s as easy as sending emails to the wrong recipient. A misdial of a number could send the document to somebody who should never see such information. In the best-case scenario, they will ignore it. In the worst case, they will exploit it.

Legal organisations, medical facilities and banks often use fax machines to send highly confidential data, so sending such documents to the wrong recipient could cause a lot of damage. 

You might argue that this could happen with emails too, but there are lots of solutions that restrict access to any recipient who shouldn’t see data. So even in the event, the email is sent to the wrong recipient, they will never see the content of the email because it was encrypted. Microsoft, for example, has such solutions.

Fax machine safety doesn’t have such precautions, unfortunately. Many of them still use analogue lines to send/receive faxes, and analogues signals can’t be encrypted, leaving them wide open to attacks. 

Fax machines can be hacked

Organisations are lulled into a false sense of security, thinking fax machines can’t be hacked the same way computers and emails can be. Yet, fax machine safety is lacking, to say the least. 

This is partly due to transmission protocols that have remained widely unchanged since first fax machines were introduced, which makes the underlying technology that’s used to send faxes extremely outdated. 

Most businesses today use all-in-one fax machines (printer, fax, scanner combination) that are connected to the rest of the IT system anyways. These machines have the fax to email option available, which is more than enough to compromise the whole network. 

The so-called “Faxploit” was well documented in the Checkpoint research conducted by E. Itkin, Y. Livneh and Y. Balmas that revealed serious vulnerabilities in the faxing protocol used by the so-called all-in-one machines. 

They highlighted just how unsafe it was to use all-in-one systems since they have a different interface that enables them to be connected to corporate networks but also use a phone line to be able to send and receive faxes. 

They did state it took them long to research whether this could be done, but they succeeded in getting unauthorized access to the whole network by sending a fax message! Once they had access, they could infiltrate any PC connected to the network, and even managed to send data back by sending a fax. 

Easy access to sensitive documents and risk of data loss

Fax machine safety, or lack thereof, isn’t an issue with all-in-one systems only. No matter what type of fax machine an organisation uses, it’s easy to get unauthorized access to documents. 

Organisations usually have operational protocols in place that provide guidelines on how to properly operate a fax machine, who has access to the room the machine is located in, but these are rarely adhered to well. 

Anyone could take a look while the fax machine is receiving documents – they could be simply walking by the machine and catch a glimpse of what is being received. Some might even take documents with the sensitive information they were not authorized to see. Usually, there is no malicious intent behind such actions, but it’s still enough to be considered a breach under new regulations. 

In an era where GDPR and other regulations have introduced stricter guidelines on how sensitive data is treated (gathered, sent, used), such mishap can end up costing organisations millions in fines

In addition, it’s easy to grab unattended documents from the fax machine if these are located in part of the office where visitors have access too. Paper files can easily be misplaced as well, which is much harder with data on a PC. 

The switch to digital solutions: 

Contrary to popular belief, faxing can be made safer, but it requires a change to technology – instead of using faxing machines that lack many security features that are the norm today, organisations can continue using faxing in digital form – with online faxing. 

 

Online faxing security has been heavily debated, with many proponents of the fax machine arguing using online faxing services is a higher risk than sticking with fax machines. 

The worries on online faxing security are misplaced, however, as all the modern security measures can be applied to online faxing.

iFax online faxing and iFax App: Making faxing secure

iFax is an online faxing service that enables organisations to send faxes securely, with all the necessary encryption protocols. iFax will keep your organisation secure by ensuring you: 

Can still send faxes, but digitally – they have moved away from analogue systems that lack encryption and embraced digitalization and full connectivity instead.

Are compliant with all regulations – Organisations will remain compliant with all directives on handling sensitive data, thanks to regular updates to encryption protocols of online faxing services

Can send faxes via email – With iFax faxing services, organisations can send faxes from their emails in just a few seconds, and the recipient will get the data in faxing form, no matter whether they use internet faxing or fax machines. You can also receive faxes in the form of email, all of which will await you in the iFax inbox.

Can store faxes in a central location and access history any time – All faxing data remains safe in your iFax app inbox where you can access it at any time and review your faxing history. 

Can access, send and receive faxes onto your mobile device too – iFax is available for mobile devices too, both iOS and Android. After you install the app, you can view and send documents from anywhere. 

Embrace online faxing with iFax App 

In addition to making online faxing secure, iFax makes it convenient too. Instead of having to wait for your turn during busy days in the office, you can now send faxes directly from the web app or your mobile device. 

iFax brings you a HIPAA and GLBA compliant online faxing solution, with encryption protocols and fail-safes that ensure you can never send a fax document to the wrong recipient over an unsecured connection.

Embrace the digital revolution with iFax app solutions for businesses and organisations. Designed with efficiency and speed in mind, you can rest easy knowing you’ll get a corporate-grade solution with real, local human support.

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