The safest way to send documents securely is to hand it to your recipient in person. However, this isn’t always an option and is rarely convenient. To help you overcome the risk of having your files intercepted by hackers, we’ve collected some of our favorite methods and tips for sending documents securely over the internet.
What Is Encryption?
Before we dive into sending documents securely, it’s important that you understand encryption, as it’s the foundation for digital security. If you already understand encryption, feel free to skip to the next section.
Encryption is a way of scrambling content (“Hi there!” = “SGkgdGhlcmUh”) that seems random, but actually has logic behind it. In fact, that little “Hi there!” example is using Base64 encryption. That means you can copy the scrambled version, paste it into Google, and decode it with a Base64 decoder.
That’s because encryption works on a lock and key basis. In that example, Base64 is the key being used. Most encryptions use a password as a key, which allows anyone with the password to view the decrypted file. For anyone without the password, they’ll only see a random string of letters and numbers. The most secure type of encryption is end-to-end encryption, which is only possible when you have complete control over the delivery channel – but more on that later.
How To Send Documents Securely
Now that you have a basic understanding of encryption, it’s time to dive into the best ways to send your documents securely. You could use a common encryption method like Base64 to secure your documents, but since these methods are used so often, they’re easy to crack. Below are three options that are a little more secure.
1. The iFax App
The iFax app is an application that makes sending documents securely a breeze. It uses 256-bit SSL encryption and is fully-HIPPA compliant, making it a reliable and safe option. Best of all, it’s end-to-end encrypted.
There’s that word again: end-to-end encryption. But what is it?
When you (Point A) send a document to someone (Point B) over the internet, it has to go on a brief journey through servers and routers. That journey is the most vulnerable part of your document’s life, where it’s at risk of being intercepted and exploited.
End-to-end encryption protects your document from the moment you send it until it arrives in your recipient’s inbox. It’s the best way to protect your files and one of the many things that makes iFax such a great option for sending documents over the internet.
2. Password Protect Your Files
A second method that’s slightly less secure (but still better than nothing) is password protecting your files. This is possible on most computers and major word processors.
To protect a document with a password in Microsoft Word, open the file. Then, in the top-left corner, click “File”, then “Info”, “Protect Document”, and “Encrypt with Password”. You can then choose a password to protect your document; the only people who will be able to view the contents of that file will be people with the password, so make sure you remember it!
To achieve the same thing in Apple Pages, simply click “File” and “Set Password”. You may notice that copying and pasting the password into an encrypted document doesn’t work; that’s because Pages requires you to type it in by hand. Make sure your recipient is aware of this.
3. Firefox Send
Firefox has built a reputation for being a champion of privacy, and Firefox Send is no exception. It’s a free online service that you can use without the Firefox browser or a Firefox account, making it a flexible solution.
FF Send allows you to upload files from your computer and share them with others via a private link. Now, if you post this link to social media, anyone can technically download your file, so it’s only as private as you make it.
That said, you have a lot of control over the privacy of the content you share with Firefox Send. After you upload a file, you can decide how many times it can be downloaded before it expires, how many days before it expires, and you can even encrypt it with a password. All in all, FF Send is a useful tool for situations where you need to securely share a document but don’t have the software to do so.
The Don’ts Of Sending Files Securely
Don’t Send Sensitive Documents Over Email
Email is one of the most popular ways to share files with coworkers, friends, and family, and for good reason. It’s ubiquitous, flexible, free, and fast. However, the one thing email isn’t is secure.
That’s because email almost solely relies on your network for security. If your network isn’t secure, there’s nothing stopping someone from intercepting the document while it’s being sent to your recipient. And even if your network is secure, if your recipient’s network isn’t, then the document is still vulnerable.
If security is a concern, avoid email.
Don’t Skip Encryption
Something you don’t want to avoid is encryption. You may have noticed that every method we mentioned for sending a document securely uses some form of encryption. That’s because encryption is one of the strongest forms of digital security, for now anyway.
There are lots of ways to send documents back and forth, whether it be through apps, messengers, wireless networks, or even the humble flash drive. No matter which method you choose, make sure some kind of encryption is involved.
Don’t Send Encryption Keys With The Document
Last but not least, don’t send the encryption key or password through the same channel that you send the document. That’s like handing a crook the key to your door before giving the key to your partner.
Instead, send them separately over two different mediums. If you’re sending a password-protected document through the iFax app, send the password to your recipient in a text message. This way, someone would have to have access to your recipient’s iFax account and their text messages to read the doc, which adds an extra layer of security.
Keep Your Data Secure In 2020
There may be more risks to your digital security than ever before, but there are just as many solutions that you can use to your advantage. Apps like iFax will provide you with the security you need to protect your data and send documents securely.