Is cloud faxing a secure and safe way to transmit private and sensitive information from one place to another?
Data security is an important priority for many industries right now, and for good reason. Cybercrime is spiking, and businesses that deal in sensitive information are prime targets.
This article examines cloud fax security and how that compares with other means of document transmission available today.
For the financial, legal, and healthcare industries, the traditional fax machine remains in use. In fact, in a survey of 200 businesses from around the world, 42% cited faxing as a secure way of sending and receiving data. Clinging to the old, trusted method of paper-based faxing works for many companies, especially in industries that need extra security. However, fax machines may be less secure than they believe.
Telephone-based faxing transmits data through phone lines, which are unreachable by hackers as long as the fax machines do not have a connection to a network. The receiving and sending machines must connect first before data goes through the phone line. By verifying a connection, fax machines avoid transmitting data to non-fax numbers.
Security problems with telephone-based faxing come from several sources. First, even if a fax machine answers and successfully receives the fax, anyone could see the information on the fax or take the printed sheet. By not creating a secure environment to receive paper faxes, a company could break rules for protecting data security laid out by HIPAA or other regulations.
Additionally, the standard for fax transmission has remained the same since its last update in 2005. The standard, T.30 gives manufacturers recommendations for how fax machines operate today. A protocol more than fifteen years old can pose problems as hackers become savvier in gaining access to data. In fact, security breaches using fax machines have already occurred.
Faxing from a multifunction printer (MFP) that transmits data from computers to the fax machine through a network or stores data on the hard drive of the MFP could expose the data to hackers. For instance, a vulnerability in the software of HP technology used in MFPs allowed a pair of researchers to take over the operation of the MFP simply by sending a particular format for a fax to the device. HP closed the security gap by providing a firmware update to the hundreds of MFPs and all-in-one devices the error occurred in. The incident highlighted some of the potential security flaws integrated MFPs.
Clearly, sending information over traditional fax machines is not as safe as many purport it to be. However, email offers an even lower level of security for your documents. For instance, many email systems do not encrypt messages, exposing the information to potential unauthorized users. The information in the emails also goes through multiple systems during its delivery. Anyone with access to a server, ISP, or virus scanner can divert an email and see its contents.
Also, passwords and email addresses tend to be less secure, especially when used as the only method of logging into an email server. These pieces of information often appear for purchase on the internet, allowing anyone who buys the information access to the user's email. Consequently, verifying the identity of an email sender is difficult. Plus, knowing who opens the document is almost impossible. Highly sensitive information should not go through email attachments to avoid these security issues.
Cloud fax systems vary in their operations. Some will encrypt faxes from the computer through delivery. Others do not offer this added security feature. Look for services that provide extra security such as robust administrative controls, audit trails, and high-grade encryption for files both at-rest and in-transit.
When comparing cloud fax security, insist on a provider that offers features that meet or exceed compliance requirements. Also, one who is willing to sign a business associate agreement (BAA) shows they are serious about the security measures they've taken to protect your valuable data.
When choosing a secure cloud fax service, you must insist on certain features to ensure the greatest safety and security for your documents. These factors play into whether a cloud fax service keeps data secure and ensures that only authorized users can send and receive faxes. The following are security features that your cloud fax service should have, and Documo's mFax offers all of them:
The cloud fax system must verify the identity of each user through an authentication process. In fact, some options will allow restrictions for account access to specific IP addresses. This restriction for log-in prevents hackers from using stolen usernames and passwords to get into the fax system.
Account restrictions should also regulate who can access which parts of the system.
Additionally, only authorized requests should be able to decrypt sent faxes, providing an extra layer of security and ensuring the correct party received the fax.
Encryption is vital to protecting data on the way from a computer or fax system to the server and the recipient. One of the holes in security with MFPs is the lack of encryption while sending documents over a local network to the printer or fax machine. While in transit or in the MFP's hard drive, the documents are not encrypted and open to unauthorized access.
When using mFax, the application and documents have encryption. The web application requires an HTTPS connection, indicating that it is a secure site. Plus, all documents sent through the system and stored in the servers are encrypted on multiple layers using TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption.
Many regulations, such as HIPAA, require the creation of an audit trail. A trail logs who accesses the system, their IP addresses, their activities, and when they log off. Any unusual events get automatically recorded by the audit trail, making suspicious activity transparent and investigations into security breaches easier.
The servers for some cloud fax companies can be potential security problems. Documo, the company behind mFax, has redundant physical and digital security for all our data centers.
The servers have backups for hardware, power, and internet to ensure constant uptime and reliability. Additional data center security features like 24/7 on-site security and biometric scans for all those who enter the area protect the servers and system from disruption. Additionally, Documo regularly tests the cybersecurity of our web applications to ensure potential threats are handled before they cause a problem.
By protecting the physical servers and web applications, Documo goes the extra mile to protect the sensitive data transmitted and stored by mFax.
Requesting the above security methods is vital if you work in a regulated industry, such as finance, legal, government, or healthcare. Even if you don't work in these sectors, you may still have regulations that apply to you, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) that applies to all companies that handle credit card information.
Many regulations require you to encrypt electronic data, protect the data from unauthorized viewing, only allow those permitted to see and send documents, and create audit trails of who logged into the system and what they did. With the security features of mFax, you easily meet or exceed these requirements and many more. Our fax service is compliant with HIPAA, PCI DSS, GLBA, SOX, and various other regulations and rules.
Cloud faxing can be a safe, secure, and convenient method for sending sensitive documents. However, make sure you are using a fax service you can trust. With mFax, you can be sure your faxed documents adhere to industry regulations and are protected by our commitment to the highest levels of encryption and data security.