Fax is still a trusted method of communication today, but how secure is fax really?

Sending or receiving faxes today is a lot more complex. In addition to traditional analog fax machines, there’s also a broad array of virtual fax options such as online fax services and fax apps.

But are online fax services secure? Or are fax machines more secure instead?

Not sure how secure is fax? Read on to find out more.

How secure is fax: analogue fax machines

Contrary to popular perception, an analogue fax machine is neither safe nor secure.

Take a look at some reasons why analogue fax isn’t as secure as you think:

Reason 1: Analogue fax places your entire IT network at risk

While it’s certainly true that analogue fax machines are not vulnerable to the same exploits hackers use to gain access to digital devices, these old contraptions still pack a lot of weaknesses that can put you, your business and your data at serious risk.

In their 2018 “Faxploit” research study, cybersecurity firm Check Point discovered that hackers could easily exploit all-in-one fax machines to completely infiltrate a home or corporate network.

(image credit: Tech Native) fax machines pose a risk to entire corporate and home networks

And because the same fax protocol responsible for the vulnerability can be found in almost every fax machine, all analogue fax machines are at risk of this exploit.

Worse, all hackers need to conduct this exploit is your fax number.

Reason 2: There’s a higher risk of non-compliance with analogue fax

Another issue with analogue fax machines is that they are rarely encrypted, yet many store soft copies of faxed documents for a certain period of time.

(image credit: Business Mirror) Analogue fax machines lack encryption and may store soft copies 

Fax servers themselves are also often unequipped with encryption software. This means that any sensitive data that is sent or received via fax may remain on an unsecure server, readily exploitable by any hackers.

Reason 3:  It’s more difficult to maintain document confidentiality with analogue fax

But the biggest issue with analogue fax machines isn’t sophisticated hacking exploits or network vulnerabilities.

It’s the fact that printed faxes are at a much higher risk of breaking confidentiality. It’s far easier for anyone else in the office to accidentally (or deliberately) get hold of a printed fax than a virtual fax on a secure server.

How secure is fax: virtual fax

On the opposite end of the fax spectrum are online fax services like eFax, Fax Central and mobile fax apps like our very own Zap Fax app.

Are online fax services secure? Truth is, they actually are a lot more secure than traditional fax machines. Here’s why:

Reason 1: Virtual Fax is more complaint than analogue fax

With analogue fax machines, the onus falls on the user to ensure compliance with federal, industry and state regulations. This heightens the risk of potential non-compliance.

Virtual fax services like eFax ensure automatic compliance with regulations

If you’re using virtual fax options instead, most of them should guarantee automatic compliance with leading standards. Efax, for example, helps companies maintain compliance across HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, PCI & other Federal Regulations – all without the user having to actively do anything.

Reason 2:  Virtual fax is sent via encrypted channels

A major problem with analogue fax lies with protecting document confidentiality. Traditional fax servers lack encryption, and having physical, printed faxes also risks unwanted exposure.

Virtual Faxes, on the other hand, typically come with added privacy and security protection.

(image credit: TechMaish) Cocofax is an online fax service that provides encrypted faxing 

If you’re using online fax services, your faxes are only sent via encrypted channels. This prevents anyone else other than the sender and receiver from accessing faxes, whether they are in transit or in storage.

If you’re using a mobile fax app like our own Zap Fax, you’ll be assigned a private fax number to exclusively send and receive faxes with.

Reason 3:  Virtual fax makes auditing and tracing easier

Another reason why virtual fax tends to be more secure than analogue fax is that virtual fax keeps a clear record of your fax activity.

Most virtual fax services keep track of all faxes you send and receive on secure servers. Some, like eFax and WiseFax, even categorise your faxes for easy search and retrieval.  Your faxes are more secure since all faxes are stored in one single and highly accessible location, preventing any potential information leaks

Don’t take fax security for granted

Virtual fax is certainly a lot more secure than analogue fax, but that doesn’t mean your faxes are 100% secure.

Before you use any online fax services or mobile fax apps, always:

  • read their privacy policy
  • take note of how they deal with your fax data
  • check their encryption standards.

Additionally, only send virtual faxes on a secure web connection. If you’re using public Wi-Fi, you’d want to take note of these tips first.

So how secure is fax? Not very for analogue fax, and virtual fax is definitely the way to go. Want to get started? Send virtual faxes anywhere, anytime with Zap Fax today!