Although fax machine technologies may seem irrelevant and outdated, they are still widely used. Industries such as medicine and legal are still employing faxes actively to handle their paperwork needs. And the new research shows the downsides and vulnerabilities of using such technologies.
They remain a popular target for hackers and cybercriminals. The main reason for it is that fax data is transmitted with no encryption or protection.
You could take advantage of online faxing though, so you can send fax using Gmail, Outlook or other email you have.
In this article, we are going to give a more detailed look at the weaknesses of using the fax machine.
Replace the fax with your mobile phone
Special faxing devices are cumbersome and it is not always convenient to use them. In case you are interested in whether is it possible to send a fax from an iPhone, the answer is positive. You just need to install a Fax App on your iPhone for an excellent faxing experience. With a mobile app, you can access the needed document everywhere and fax it fast and effectively.
Cybersecurity is the biggest concern for all Internet users. And fax devices are not an exception. Of course, they are not as widely used as other devices, but still, cybercriminals often choose them as the target for receiving critical data.
Fax machines are analog and not under threat from the same hacking methods as digital technologies. Hence, it doesn’t mean that faxes are not vulnerable at all. Usually, a belief that faxes are safe comes from the point that fax machines can’t be accessed remotely, apart from digital tools.
Yet, this doesn’t mean complete privacy and security. While transited, fax documents don’t have any encryption. It means that everyone who accesses the line can also access data transmitted via the fax machine.
According to the Data Breach Investigations Report, 35% of breaches are caused by human error. And this is a common problem for fax machines. It’s just too easy for a user to type the mistaken number into your fax machine and this can cause many problems.
2. The same protocol for all machines
Regardless of the model, all fax machines use the same protocol. This way, a document sent from one machine can easily be received by another machine. This creates a risk of interception before the document is received by the recipient.
3. Problems with email
Emails are a fast and easy way to share information with others, but the main issue with an email address is that you don’t have any verification of the faxing process. You just click send on the screen and your important document goes into cyberspace. The only way you are informed about receiving your fax is if you get a reply from the recipient.
4. Risk of external access to the documents
There is an extremely high risk of somebody else having access to sensitive information if you are not waiting at the machine to receive the fax. Most organizations use shared fax machines and all employees have access to them, which of course violates common cybersecurity regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. A person from another department in your company can just have a glance at the document and, by just doing that, access confidential data.
To sum up, if you are still using analog fax for sharing any confidential or regulated data v, you shouldn’t be. The cyber security risks are too high. So, when using a fax machine you should not let people see your fax, or change the way of sharing documents in your company. If you still choose to use fax machines, you also need to think very carefully about keeping the critical documents in a safe place and organizing them in a proper way.
5. Non-compliance with security standards
By sharing documents using fax machines, you need to be extra careful about complying with security standards. And it is not just about someone looking at the papers. It is about more serious things.
An average, analog fax machine is hardly ever encrypted and can keep the electronic copies of the papers that were sent or received with this device. This way, any sensitive information transmitted with your fax machine can be kept on the unprotected hard drive. The only time the files are deleted from the faxing device is when they are replaced with more recent documents, which results in the following security issue.
The next problem is the fax server. Most in-house fax servers do not have special encryption software. Such servers as faxing machines can keep unprotected electronic copies of all the transmitted documents for a long time. To make it even worse, usually, when the server is getting close to full capability, firms print out hard copies to keep them, which makes these files even more vulnerable and further puts the company at risk for non-compliance.