Is online fax secure? That is one of the most frequently asked questions among people who have yet to find a secure fax service.
Online faxing, also called cloud faxing, has many benefits compared to older fax technology including greater flexibility, security, and efficiency. This guide outlines everything you need to know about cloud faxing and using an online fax service.
What Is Cloud Faxing?
“The cloud” refers to any software or services provided over the internet. You can create or access cloud-based files, like documents and spreadsheets, or use a cloud-based software program, from any device that connects to the internet.
A cloud fax service replaces physical fax machines with internet-based options, also eliminating the need to stock up on paper and toner the older technology requires. There’s no need for a fax number as you can send documents over email or via a web portal. Not only can using a cloud fax service save you time, it can also help save your company money.
Top 8 Benefits of a Digital Fax
When you need to send documents in the safest format possible, your best option is to use a secure cloud fax service. Online secure fax services keep documents safe from interception while in transit between senders and receivers, as well as while at rest in the cloud. Compared to traditional faxing methods, digital faxing offers the following benefits:
1. Encrypted Systems
Correspondence via digital fax is done over an encrypted system, which makes a digital fax more secure than traditional fax or email.
Traditional faxing via manual fax machines is exposed to information security and compliance risks. Email is other method of transmitting a document, however email is less secure than digital fax since emails are vulnerable to hackers and data breaches.
In the medium of digital fax correspondence, each exchange is protected by layers of security that are impossible to penetrate with phone bugs and email phishing tactics.
With digital faxes, you can choose to send and receive the documents using your preferred online faxing method:
- Send a fax via email-to-fax, web fax portal, or Windows printer interface
- Receive a fax into your email inbox, secure network folders or directly into your business applications
If the documents in question are of a sensitive nature, such as involving personal health information, signatures, credit card information, Social Security numbers or other confidential information, you can restrict the access only to an authorized user with two factor authentication for additional security, if necessary. On the other hand, for shared documents, cloud faxing can allow multiple users to access faxes more conveniently.
3. Protects Legally Binding Documents
Legal documents are one of the main reasons why fax, both traditional and digital, has remained popular in the face of email and online correspondence. Because emails can be easily hacked and are not as secure of a way to send information, there are a number of risks involved with emailing legal documents. Other challenges include not being able to confirm the correct person received the information and there is no way to verify the authenticity of a signature when it arrives in the form of an email message.
If a document is signed in paper form, the authenticity of the signature is obvious due to the handwriting of the signature itself, whether the document is signed in ink and returned via snail mail or returned via fax.
If a document is signed electronically on a digital fax form, the signature is verifiable because the document itself can only be processed on the computing device of the intended recipient of the original blank document.
Therefore, faxed documents are generally accepted as legally binding, barring those submitted to government agencies
4. Transmits Hack-Proof Documents
When email accounts are hacked, the intrusion is virtually impossible to detect. Cyber thieves can hack into email servers and leak the private data of targeted parties. Instances like these have collapsed businesses, ruined careers, destroyed reputations and put people at risk. Despite the efforts of email service providers, who have worked with anti-malware developers to block the intrusions of data thieves, hacking remains a problem.
Cybercriminals cannot hack into a fax to steal data, making them a more secure way to send and receive documents. Digital faxes rely on a different type of technology, so that even if an unauthorized third party intercepts the fax, they can’t read it. Digital faxes are encrypted, which means the fax would have to be converted by an authorized user to be able to read them.
5. Protects Against Phishing Attempts
Another major risk of email is the possibility of phishing, which is the fraudulent practice of sending emails claiming to be from a reputable source to encourage individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card information. Additionally, in some cases, programs can then take over your computer to access vital company data, such as contact lists, credit card numbers and the passwords of program account holders.
In a worst-case scenario, a phishing incident could lead to a data breach of epic proportions, the likes of which would cause you to lose customers by the thousands. Even though many email users know safe email practices, thousands of people still fall for this trap each year.
Thankfully, phishing is not possible with secure digital faxing.
6. Prevents Spam
The word “spam” refers to unwanted or unsolicited messages sent in bulk, typically via email. It’s estimated that nearly 85% of all emails are spam, costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Thankfully, most email servers are equipped with functions that filter spam into separate folders, allowing users to avoid the majority of unwanted messages.
Still, the fact that you can end up on spam lists simply for listing your email address on social media, even in the most limited capacity, points to the real and clear danger of exchanging sensitive data through email correspondence.
When it comes to fax correspondence, there is no equivalent to spam. Even if your fax number falls into the hands of a bulk-list hard seller, it is illegal to send junk faxes because doing so uses up the toner and paper of parties at the receiving end. Furthermore, cloud fax services may block spam fax numbers. Therefore, users of digital and traditional fax correspondence will never encounter spam or similar issues.
7. Avoids Blocking Capabilities
Designed to protect users, the blocking features in email are intended to filter out spam and messages with dangerous attachments. However, various other messages can also get blocked due to them having certain characteristics, even if they are not dangerous.
For example, you might send an important business email to a potential client or partner, only for that message to end up in the recipient’s spam folder simply because you used a certain word in the email header that is deemed blockable.
When important emails end up in spam filters, you could end up missing out on various important opportunities. When it comes to business correspondence, digital fax is considered more reliable since there’s no blocking function due to the lack of an equivalent to spam.
8. Offers Instant Confirmation
One of the biggest advantages of fax correspondence is that you can verify whether the message has been received at the other end. Once your fax is successfully sent to your recipient, you are notified with detailed fax transmission status information, giving you instant assurance that your message or document was received.
Is Cloud Faxing Secure?
While there are some cloud fax risks, the process is much more secure than using older fax technology. Sharing information through documents always carries some degree of risk. However, electronic fax is one of the safest, most organized ways to manage this process. Some of the security benefits a cloud fax service provides include:
- Encryption: Encryption transforms a document into a code that requires a key to decipher. If a third party intercepts an encrypted fax, it can’t make sense of the document without access to the key. Softlinx cloud fax uses some of the most secure encryption options available to keep your records and other confidential information safe during transmission and while at rest in the cloud.
- Compliance: Healthcare providers and financial institutions must comply with privacy laws when sending information. A cloud fax service offers 100% compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other regulations. The service creates a log of every fax, including retrieval and deletion information. If your organization is up for an audit, you’ll have the information you need.
- Elimination of physical documents: Paper faxes are a security risk as they can get misplaced or picked up by the wrong party. The physical documents must be shredded or destroyed properly to avoid theft and clutter. A cloud fax service eliminates the need for paper copies of your faxes.
- Ongoing support: If you have any questions or concerns about your service or the platform, customer support is available around the clock. Softlinx is here to answer your questions and resolve any security concerns.
How to Keep Your Digital Fax Documents Secure
Cloud faxing services are safe and efficient as long as the medium is used with the utmost responsibility. When you use a cloud fax service, the following practices can help ensure you’re following proper security protocols:
- Make sure that your fax service provider uses strong encryption. This will keep your documents protected and secure while they are in transmission or at rest in the cloud.
- If you forward a fax that contains portions of information deemed confidential by the original sender, make sure to crop the info in question before you forward the fax to the third party.
- Before sending a fax, contact the intended recipient to verify they will be available to receive the fax. This step is especially crucial if the fax communication involves a deadline or anything that requires prompt action at the other end.
- If a fax concerns matters of high confidentiality, refrain from sharing it with organizations that engage in weak confidentiality practices.
- Enact a retention policy within your organization and among partnered entities. This will ensure that fax communications, both sent and received, are not retained beyond their intended expiration dates.
- Fax services typically retain logs of outgoing and incoming communications. It is, therefore, crucial to read and understand the privacy protections and retention policies of a service provider.
Secure Cloud Faxing Service From Softlinx
Secure digital fax is becoming the most accepted way for business-to-business communication. If you regularly engage in fax communications to and from your customers and contacts, consider the benefits and security of a cloud fax service. Contact Softlinx for a demo or schedule a demo.