Faxing remains a reliable method for transmitting crucial documents, even in the era of email. Attorneys and businesses often opt for faxes due to their legal enforceability, particularly for remote contract signings. Moreover, healthcare professionals frequently employ faxes to communicate among themselves.
However, it is imperative to prioritize secure faxing practices when dealing with sensitive information. Neglecting security measures can potentially breach privacy or harm professional relationships.
Unintentional privacy violations can result in fines and legal repercussions, such as those mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which obliges companies to safeguard financial data.
To maintain compliance and protect confidential data, it is essential to ensure secure faxing protocols. However, the business faxing process itself can be improved. Just use these tips and you will achieve more.
How secure is fax?
You can send a fax using either the traditional method or online. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of safety and convenience.
Traditional faxing requires a fax machine and phone line. One advantage is that phone lines are typically less vulnerable to hackers compared to the Internet. However, there is a risk of the wrong person receiving the paper fax without the sender being aware.
Additionally, the document may be left unattended by the fax machine for a long time, making it visible to others. All-in-one machines also often lack authentication protocols for faxes, allowing malicious faxes to access the recipient's entire network.
Online faxing involves directly sending a document from the computer, although it would need to be scanned if it wasn't created on the computer. This method avoids the security challenges associated with leaving a physical document at the receiving end.
However, some online methods may expose you to various cybersecurity risks. By establishing and following robust security protocols, online faxing can be the most secure option available.
1. Safety protocols for receivers
As previously mentioned, traditional faxes pose a significant security risk on the receiving end. To prevent unintended recipients, make a phone call to the intended person just before sending the fax. This alerts them about the upcoming fax. Additionally, prefer faxing only to machines in private offices instead of central locations. Consider implementing passcodes for fax access.
2. Protect your storage
A fax machine possesses an inherent risk in its operation. It functions by scanning documents and transmitting the scanned facsimile to the receiver. Some machines store the scanned fax image on their hard drive. If you lease or sell your fax machine, the new recipient can effortlessly access any stored data on the machine's hard drive.
To mitigate this risk when utilizing a traditional fax or all-in-one machine, search for ones equipped with automatic hard drive wiping. Alternatively, negotiate a lease contract that permits you to retain the hard drive when the lease concludes.
3. Go to apps
Propose an initiative to your boss or integrate this method into your daily work routine. Let us think: can the iPhone fax without complex manipulations? You can utilize specially designed fax apps to send faxes from any location within your office. Even during your lunch break, you have the ability to scan, sign, and send documents. Online fax is straightforward, quick, and dependable.
4. Send signed documents
Before starting the process, ensure that your documents are correct. Missing signatures on documents is one of the most common issues encountered while faxing. As a result, the process often needs to be repeated after discovering the mistake.
5. Update your software regularly
Hackers have gained knowledge of the 30-year-old protocols used in traditional fax machines. Wired reports that security protocols for fax machines are poorly documented, and many businesses fail to implement them properly.
Malicious faxes can be sent to all-in-one machines, allowing hackers to access the entire network since these machines generally lack authentication protocols for faxes. Updating software on these all-in-one machines can reduce the risk, but not eliminate it.
6. Use encryption technology
Encrypting faxes is crucial and a regulatory requirement for various fax types, ensuring security from device to delivery. Even if hackers manage to access the fax, reading an encrypted version would require significant effort. The best approach is to implement multiple layers of TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption.
7. Work through the cloud
Cloud storage, which operates from a data center, offers enhanced security compared to storing documents on an in-house server. In many instances, responsibility for data security is shifted to the third-party data center when utilizing a cloud server.
Moreover, utilizing a cloud server for storage simplifies document tracking and eliminates the need for scanning before attaching them. Additionally, you can effortlessly link documents stored in the cloud.
8. Keep devices secure
To maintain the security of faxes, it is crucial to also secure your devices. Limit access to authorized individuals only for computers, tablets, and phones. Additionally, it is important to avoid any vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
- Keep your software and operating systems up to date.
- Use long passwords and avoid reusing them for multiple accounts. Never share passwords through text or email. Keep written passwords locked up.
- Do not leave mobile devices unattended, and keep rooms with computers locked.
- Lock your phone.
- Be cautious of downloads. Implement policies that prohibit downloads without IT department approval.
- Activate encryption settings on mobile phones.
- Install anti-virus software.
9. Training your employees
Internet fax communication as a paperless technology is a necessary investment for any business. To implement it properly, companies must develop a clear implementation plan that will help transition from a paper-based office to a paperless one.
In addition to acquiring the necessary equipment, a good implementation plan should involve training employees. Employee engagement is crucial for optimizing the fax-sending process in your business.
However, they can only embrace online faxing technology if they feel empowered to use it. Your employees should be well-trained and informed about the necessity of adopting this practice.
Consider developing a training program to help them understand the basics of working with electronic faxes and how to correctly use auxiliary tools. Try to demonstrate how online faxes work. You can also configure their phones and email to enable them to send and receive faxes.
Providing your employees with the opportunity to use online faxing allows your business to unite everyone behind this technology with a clear understanding of why the business is transitioning to paperless technologies.
10. Protect your storage
Fax machines pose an inherent risk due to their operation method. They scan and transmit documents as scanned facsimiles to the receiver, sometimes storing the scanned image in their hard drive. If you lease or sell the machine, the new recipient can easily access the data stored in the hard drive.
To mitigate this risk, consider using a traditional fax or all-in-one machine that automatically wipes the hard drive. Alternatively, negotiate a contract with your lease provider to retain the hard drive after the lease ends.
11. Secure your server
To ensure the safety of online faxes, protect your in-house server from cyberattacks by taking the following steps:
- Constantly upgrade software and operating systems.
- Specify access privileges and restrict them as much as possible. Not every employee requires access to all stored documents within your organization.
- Establish virtual private networks (VPNs) to securely exchange information within the company, eliminating the risk of outside access.
- Utilize firewall protection.
12. Improve your network security
Ensure strangers or hackers are unable to gain access to sensitive information by taking steps to protect your wireless router. Change the name of the router provided by the manufacturer to something unique to you or your company.
Change the default password to something unique as well. Keep the router's software up-to-date and allow only specific devices to access the network. Encourage employees to be cautious of wireless hotspots that often lack security features. Only log on to networks that require a WPA2 password.
13. Check the fax machine is working
To ensure smooth work processes, your office is equipped with the necessary machinery. Like any other machine, your fax machine needs regular maintenance. Schedule a quarterly visit from a technician to assess its performance.
14. Adding a cover page to online faxes
Even with the advancement of technology in the modern world, your fax messages should maintain their professionalism. Online faxes are sent and received via email. While email can be considered a professional means of communication, transmitting documents through this channel may leave little or no impression on the recipient.
You can distinguish online fax messages by including a cover page with the documents your company sends. This ensures that your message leaves a positive impression on those who receive it. It also provides them with important information about your business, including the company name, phone number, and address.
Since all companies share documents with colleagues, faxes remain relevant in diverse ways. Sending a fax from your iPhone is now considerably easier and faster, unlike a few years ago. Technological progress never ceases, and everyone strives to adopt new technologies.
By monitoring the technical status of fax machines, training staff, and efficient apps, you can greatly simplify your daily routines. Join the ranks of those who embrace fax apps, and you will likely forget about traditional machines. Additionally, by informing your colleagues about this method, we are confident that the work will become even more enjoyable for all of you.