Many business owners and contractors have reservations about making the switch from analog to online faxing. They get nervous about issues such as data security and compliance with industry regulations. The good news is that sending faxes online can be a safe and secure method of communication as long as business owners take a few basic precautions.
Online Faxing Is Safer Than Sending Analog Faxes
There’s a common misconception these days that analog fax machines are safer than digital alternatives because the documents are transmitted over phone lines instead of the Internet. While it’s true that hackers have a harder time accessing data transferred via analog phone lines, it’s not necessarily safer to use fax machines than digital faxing services.
The problem is that analog fax machines leave a lot of room for human error. If a printed fax is left unattended, it could be read or even stolen by anyone in the area. Faxes sent using cloud-based services like mFax can’t be accessed by anyone except the authorized recipient.
Online Faxing Is Also Safer Than Email
Cybercriminals hack into people’s email accounts all the time. Emails can also be easily forged. Digital faxes, on the other hand, can be signed to ensure authenticity and transmitted using secured connections. As a result, most business professionals consider this method of communication to be safer and more viable for transmitting sensitive information or signing binding contracts.
Methods for Securing Online Faxes
Every online fax service uses a different set of security protocols. Some are more effective than others, but all are designed to ensure data security while digital faxes are at rest and in transit. Common and effective methods for securing online faxes include:
Providers that use SSL encryption can protect their clients’ personal information whenever their cloud-based services are being used. Digital fax senders and recipients can verify that the connection is SSL encrypted by checking the URL bar. If the address begins with HTTPS instead of HTTP, the connection is secure.
People who are afraid that others will use their online fax accounts to send fraudulent digital faxes at their expense should look for services that send confirmation emails. This automated feature generates a confirmation email each time a fax is sent from the account. If a user gets a confirmation email without sending a fax first, he or she will know that the account has been compromised.
While encryption can help to protect data in transit and confirmation emails can help users identify fraudulent activity, neither of these security methods will protect online fax data while it’s at rest. That requires working with a company that stores data on secured servers in state-of-the-art facilities. Look for an audit rating of at least SSAE-16.
The use of two-factor authentication (2FA) allows service providers to verify the identity of account holders with a greater level of confidence. It adds an extra step to basic log-in procedures, which can help to keep the account more secure. There are three categories of 2FA.
- Personal identification numbers, patterns, and additional passwords
- Numbers sent to or derived from other devices or physical belongings such as phones, fobs, and even ATM cards
- Biometrics such as fingerprints or voiceprints
There are a few different forms of 2FA, and every company uses slightly different protocols. What’s most important is that the service offers this advanced user authentication strategy and that users keep it turned on.
Keeping an audit trail of documents sent via online faxing won’t necessarily prevent any individual fax from being intercepted. It will, however, give senders the ability to trace their documents from when they leave the fax machine or get sent to an email to fax service to the time when the recipient opens the email or receives the fax. Audit trails make it easier to identify potential security breaches and, in many cases, they’re required by industry regulations.
What Online Fax Senders and Recipients Can Do to Keep Documents Secure
Even if a fax service offers all of the above-listed security features, and more, that won’t stop every potential data breach. Hackers know that, while reputable companies put safeguards in place to protect data both at rest and in transit, the average person takes far fewer steps to protect his or her private information online. Anyone who plans to use an online faxing service should take a few basic precautions.
Use Strong Email Passwords
People sending faxes from their email addresses or receiving them online should note that their communications will only be as secure as their email accounts. Take steps to secure the account by choosing a strong password that’s at least eight characters long and contains both upper and lowercase letters, at least one number and, if possible, at least one other character. Most good email servers also offer additional security measures, so make sure to opt-in to keep the account as private as possible.
The fact that a company offers two-factor authentication as an added security protocol doesn’t mean all of its clients will use it. Make sure this security feature is turned on, and leave it that way. It may be a little inconvenient to take the extra step to log in each time, but it’s worth it.
Protect Personal Devices
Personal computers should always be protected by strong antivirus programs and firewalls. Keep all software up to date, and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding suggested upgrades.
Read Privacy Policies
Online fax services generally take their clients’ privacy and data security very seriously, but that doesn’t mean users shouldn’t read through their privacy policies. These policies will explain what rights and responsibilities both the companies and their clients have regarding online privacy, so it’s wise to be familiar with them.
Sign Up Today
Ready to start sending and receiving faxes securely from any Internet-connected device? It’s time to start looking into digital faxing services. Just be sure to check out the company’s data security protocols and privacy policies before signing up.