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Is Faxing Secure

Date Added: June 16, 2020 10:08:31 AM

Actual fax machines are still a thing. They still sell a lot at the local office product stores. The reason is that they do provide a unique service. Anything manually faxed from one fax machine to another one is secure. It's not hackable in the way e-mail is. Since it's sent over a phone line and there is no record of the file on any computer, server or PC, anywhere.

However, if the FBI was tracking you they could probably intercept the phone line and get a copy while the call was in progress. However, hackers can’t usually do that.

The way faxes are secured in the digital world is thru a ‘secure portal’. In the medical field, there is a regulation for HIPAA Faxing. The fax is only accessible through a password-protected portal. You get a notice that you received a fax and then you have to log into a secure portal to retrieve the fax. That helps protect against an e-mail hack. However, common practice is that once the fax is retrieved the user saves it on their local computer. If the computer gets compromised the fax is there for anyone to see. So, machine to machine faxing is the only reliable way to  secure a fax.

As the overall migration to online fax services progresses, the actual machines are less common, but are still very useful.

Don’t toss that machine.

We still keep our all-in-one scanner / copier / fax machine plugged in to one of our secondary phone lines. The machine is set to 'Never Answer' and to 'Not Ring'. On occasion, we will use it to send out something from that machine. Sometimes, it can be quicker than scanning and e-mailing. We sometimes send it to ourselves for a quick, lower resolution, electronic copy. Also, unlike a traditional machine set up, with online faxing you can actually send to your own number. Also, if your internet connection goes down, the phone line and the fax machine may still work.

Online faxing has that issue of everything being sent to an e-mail account and being hosted on an e-mail server somewhere. So, it 'could' be compromised in the same way that any e-mail account could be. Thus, the original machine to machine technology looks great today. It's still used in various secure environments today for that reason. 

When migrating to an online fax the thing to be aware of are the overcharges from some of the major carriers. If someone were to send you a 50 page document you might get charged an extra $5- on your monthly bill. And there would be no limit to how much spam an unhappy customer could send. So, find an online service that guarantees no overcharges. 

Also, be sure that your online fax provider allows you to port your number to a different carrier. One of the major providers has a marketing approach that gives you a few months at a discounted price and then your cost increase tremendously. If you try to change carriers they refuse to allow you to keep your number. Since you have already published your fax number you are then stuck with their overpriced monthly charges. Your only option is to get a new number from a different service and cancel the original one.