Though the Sony breach was one of the biggest in history, the company was far from alone in its efforts to protect data from bad actors. Data protection is becoming increasingly important—and the inherent vulnerabilities of email and other platforms are becoming more obvious. Many companies are looking for other ways to safeguard sensitive information, which has led some to focus on fax to email. Here, we'll discuss the faxploit vulnerability and how to minimize its effects.
The email platform is susceptible to intrusion because it's connected to the internet, and because the technology is so pervasive. Email is accessible, which means that hackers have endless opportunities to exploit its weaknesses.
Fax machines, by comparison, are archaic. They're not connected to the internet; rather, these analog devices send and receive data via phone lines. While they're still used in some industries, they're largely out of favor and they don't present a strong value proposition to hackers. In theory, fax machines can transmit data outside the reach of cybercriminals. However, they can be hacked, after a fashion.
A fax machine is a digital device, which means it contains computerized, programmable elements that can potentially be altered. There's a big difference between emails and fax machines, however. While a computer can be hacked, a fax machine cannot. Instead, the fax's peripherals are hackable.
Emails often contain links that lead to malware, viruses, and other software that infects machines, steals information, and disrupts networks. Faxes, however, don't have such problems. Hackers have capitalized on this, sending emails that masquerade as fax messages. When a user clicks on one of these deceptive emails, their machine will be infected.
While fax does much to keep sensitive information protected, the technology can be manipulated. It's not due to an inherent flaw, but because there's no way to prevent human error, which leads to most security and compliance breaches. Users can stay compliant with mFax features such as:
· Document storage integration, which reduces the need to scan or print sensitive documents
· Creating an audit trail for data
· Authentication based on receiver and sender identity
· Admin-configurable permissions based on each user's information access requirements
With technology like mFax, employees can follow the rules while receiving and sending faxes safely, quickly, and securely.
Many who use fax technology for its security benefits fail to consider the two biggest hacking threats. These include:
· Interception. While data is secure while it's on the machine, that's not always the case. Hackers can't steal the data from the fax machine as they would from an email service. Once the information is sent, however, it's vulnerable. Fax machines don't include encryption technology, which means data is sent and received unprotected. Although it's harder to steal data from an analog line than from the internet, it's still possible.
· Faxploit. Today's firewalls stop most cyberattacks. As evidenced by the Sony hack, it's not foolproof—but it does take a prolonged, persistent technique to break through. Fax machines have no firewall, but most are connected to IT networks. That means an enterprising hacker can use a fax machine as a backdoor into a network, using basic programming to bypass the protections placed on advanced hardware.
In the section below, we'll explain the faxploit vulnerability in greater detail.
At its core, faxploit is an infiltration method. Like other hacking methods, it uses problematic files to gain unauthorized access to computer networks. The goal is the same as well; faxploit hackers typically aim to blackmail users or steal their data. Fax machines are the only pieces of equipment that are susceptible to faxploit.
When an unauthorized user attempts to access a system, they usually meet a firewall that stops harmful programs. As mentioned above, fax machines lack firewalls, and they're not equipped to combat digital threats. Hackers know this, and they also realize that these machines are typically connected to corporate IT networks via WiFi or all-in-one printers. Because there's no protection, a hacker can attack a fax machine and use it to access a network, thereby using internal connections to spread malware.
There's just one way to stop faxploit: stop using fax machines. One of the biggest issues is that analog lines don't have the protection needed to stop digital threats as they arise, therefore fax machines lack it as well. To ensure the platform's security, the technology must be reinvented.
While previous faxploits were patched, the fix only worked on a certain bit of code. Fax technology still has the same flaw, which means there's nothing stopping a hacker from executing malicious programs. Fax seems archaic these days, but numerous businesses still use it as a primary means of communication. For these companies, eliminating fax technology is not an option.
There may be a compromise, however.
With mFax, you can toss the fax machine without dumping the underlying technology. Our solution facilitates the digital transmission of faxes, making them more secure. It's still possible to communicate with traditional machines, but all your company's sensitive data is sent and received through modern, secure hardware.
Fax technology may seem outdated to some, but as evidenced by its continued use in the healthcare and legal fields, it still has a place in the business world. It's not without its security flaws, though, and companies must still take steps to protect sensitive data as it's being transmitted. With mFax, businesses can stop faxploits without losing the ability to send and receive information by fax. Contact us today to learn how we can help companies improve security and keep the functionality they need.