There is a misconception amongst businesses that fax machine transfers are more secure than digital ones, but this isn’t the case. Complete with a lack of encryption, risks associated with paper documents and some very unique vulnerabilities, fax is far from safe.
Fax documents can be sent to much higher security standards if they use the right platform. eFax online faxing provides businesses with the solution they need to maintain fax without the risk factors of fax machines.
In the wake of the very wide-spread and very public Sony email hack back in 2015, it was revealed that CEO Michael Lynton started using fax machines to transmit sensitive information. His decision was based on the idea that fax machines are more secure than digital options when it comes to data security. This notion is, unfortunately, misguided.
Fax machines are outdated analogue technology. This certainly protects them against most modern ideas of data infiltration, purely because the tech is so old, it doesn’t operate on the same sort of systems that are threatened by 21st-century issues. However, that does not mean fax is secure. It is far from it. The fax machine is prone to some very damaging data protection vulnerabilities that cannot be avoided, putting any business that uses them at risk of major legal infractions.
With GDPR now thoroughly integrated into the modern workplace — and massive fines already being doled out — it is critical that your business protects itself, and its customers, against data breaches and loss. But how does the fax machine work against this goal?
When it comes to data protection issues associated with fax machines, three big problems that mean your fax is not secure, and never really can be.
Unlike digital transmissions, fax machine transmissions are difficult to access remotely, which is where a lot of the confidence in their security comes from. However, this doesn’t mean that information is safe. Fax documents are sent without any form of security or encryption. This means that while in transit, they are susceptible to access. Anyone who can access the phone line you are using to transmit files can very easily steal the information you send. If the phone line of your recipient is compromised, the data can be stolen on their end, too.
Fax machines produce paper documents. Paper documents are known to be data security nightmares. The first problem occurs immediately upon printing. If the fax machine is in a public space — even if that means it is accessible to fellow employees — the document instantly has the potential to be viewed by an unauthorised individual. You then have to store the document safely, which becomes difficult, as common filing cabinets are often accessible by multiple individuals and vulnerable to more unauthorised access.
Further to this, you must then consider the potential for loss of data. You may misplace a physical file, just as a British security agent did when they left documents about terrorist suspects on a train, or it could be stolen. The existence of paper documents creates a myriad of problems that fax machines only exacerbate.
Fax machines are decades-old technology still operating in the modern era. As such, they were not built to withstand malicious attempts at infiltration that newer pieces of hardware and software are designed to fight back against. The complexities of the different vulnerabilities that fax machines face are worth their own article. But in short, because technology has evolved beyond them, it’s even easier for attackers to exploit their archaic practices to gain access to your business systems. Fax machines have no protective methods or firewalls, yet are often connected to your entire computer system. Using these vulnerabilities, hackers can effectively use your fax machine as an open backdoor to gain entry to your business IT network without much trouble at all.
So your business faces a dilemma. Fax might be a very important part of your communication platform. But you cannot carry on using fax machines given the dangers they pose to your document security. Fortunately, there is a way to both keep faxing and secure your business. Digital faxing, otherwise known as online faxing or cloud faxing, presents a solution to the problems faced by fax security. It enables the transmission of fax documents to continue while protecting your business from the issues with fax in the following ways: