Why fax isn’t secure enough for your important documents

By: Shyami Goyal from Techigem

As of today, fax machines still remain a mainstay of global businesses. Fields like government and healthcare rely heavily on faxes for conducting their daily operations.For example, the National Health Service of UK has 9000 plus fax machines which are used in regular office work. Chances are high that the all-in-one printer lying at the corner of your boss’s room comes with a built-in fax component. However, latest research has pointed out the high level of network risk which this old tech can bring upon our data security. 

Using a fax line is an extremely common business practice, with more than 45 million devices still in use. Certain sectors rely more on this device as a set standard for remitting some documents.  Read on to learn more about the negative consequences of using fax, and the benefits in switching to SignEasy for getting your documents securely signed online.

Why is Using Fax so Risky?

The ancient technology of fax machines make organizations extremely vulnerable to security threats. 

Network Sharing

Since all fax machines work on the same protocol, it becomes possible for every machine connected to the network to receive and print fax sent by another device. This happens through the telephone network and thus also opens up the possibility of unauthorized network access. 

Unauthorized Use

Chances also remain high of someone else intercepting the information or the document falling into the wrong hands. You can take the example of a fax machine which is placed at the communal area of an office where the documents can be collected by almost every employee on the floor. 

Hacking

Fax machines have been targeted by hackers for decades. The main reason behind this is the highly insecure technology operating at its backend. Fax data do not contain any cryptographic protections which makes it possible for almost everyone with the requisite skills of tapping a phone line to break into the transmitted data. 

Hackers might send image files containing malicious payload such as crypto-miners, spyware, ransomware and similar malware across the network of connected peripherals. These files look like a mirror image of files which are sent via email or used in websites. Once the uploading process of these images is complete, it gets stored in RAM and might disrupt operations as well as access private data from there. Hackers might even upload further malware into the system to provide themselves with free reign within shared networks. 

Easy availability of fax numbers further aggravates the problem as the numbers can be attained easily from various company websites. Malicious faxes are also extremely cheap to send after scraping the web and running automatic attacks. Companies have a tendency of overlooking the entire concept of fax machines while determining its security parameters. The analogue design of these machines often make us unable to realize the degree of potential threat. Instances are also not rare where security auditors do not possess any knowledge about the fax capabilities of the network. 

Confusing Documentation Of Fax Protocol

A standard description exists across the globe pertaining to the means of incorporating technology into fax machines and its operations. However, it does not get properly implemented across all devices which leads to further troubles. The problem can be termed as ‘stack overflow’ and happens when the structure storing all information pertaining to the running of a program overflows. This causes the entire system to crash. Stack overflows can also be initiated by hackers for gaining more privileges in the system strategically. 

Conclusion

Even as the corporates are marching towards a paperless future, the fax machine simply refuses to go down history as a defunct relic. More than 100 billion faxes are sent across the globe on a yearly basis which makes its senders and recipients vulnerable to cybercrime. In such a scenario, organizations can keep themselves safe by updating their fax machines using latest patches and keeping them separated from other devices connected to the network. Alternatively, you can proceed with SignEasy which has already garnered a massive fan following with its seamless operation as well as legally binding compliance. 

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