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Is Internet Faxing Safe? How to Send and Receive Faxes Online Safely

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

There's no need to fear a lack of security if your company decides to receive faxes online

  • Modern technology has made work-related issues much easier to deal with, including the ability to send and receive faxes online, but is this process safe and secure?
  • Printed faxes are at risk of being seen and read by others in the office that is not privy to the document. Online faxes prevent the risk of your document being seen by those who aren’t meant to see it.
  • Secure online faxing services offer various security features, such as SSL encryption and confirmation emails ensure your document being sent and/or received is secure. Your personal information is protected, and you receive an email of the fax that can be printed, copied and/or saved.

It's common for people to have concerns when it comes to faxing online. You may feel as though faxing online is scary and not secure, but when you use a secure online fax service, there are state-of-the-art security features, such as SSL encryption. When looking for a faxing service to use in your company, it's important to check and make sure their website mentions information about the secure delivery and storage of faxes.

Online faxing is secure

Online fax services are just as safe as other forms of communication, if not safer. Depending on your fax service provider, you can even opt for advanced security options for extra protection. Here are some of the facts about sending online faxes safely.

Online fax vs. an email

Email hacking is a much more common occurrence than the hacking of telephone lines, which are used to transmit faxes. Emails are easily forged. Anyone can type out an email and make it look as though someone else sent it, but only faxes can be handwritten and signed to ensure authenticity. Many industries that deal in sensitive information, such as the medical, legal and economic sectors, are choosing to use online fax instead of email when they can.

Online fax vs. printed fax

There are many security benefits that come from using online faxes compared to printed faxes. Printed faxes take time to print out, but if left unattended, they can be read or stolen by anyone in the immediate area. In that case, the thief has a legally binding, printed document to use at his or her discretion. Instead of employees wasting their time watching a long fax print out, they can receive a fax online, where it is safely stored on their computers.

SSL encryption

One way your online faxes are kept safe is with SSL encryption. This type of encryption protects your personal information when you are using an internet browser. You can see an indicator of SSL encryption when the web address in your URL bar begins with HTTPS instead of HTTP.

When you receive faxes online, you get an email alert with a link to your fax, which you can then open in a secure internet browser. From there, you can print, copy and save the fax.

Confirmation emails

If you're concerned someone may fraudulently use your online fax account to send faxes at your expense, many online fax services offer protection against that by using confirmation emails. Each time a fax is sent from your account, you receive a confirmation email. If you ever get a confirmation email for a fax you didn't send, you'll know your account has been compromised. You can then change your password or contact support to suspend your account.

Customer Support

The best way to learn how to receive a fax online safely is by using the customer support features of the online fax service you choose. Many of them have how-to guides and blogs posted online for you to look through. You can also call or live chat with support staff if you have any questions about how to receive a fax online.

Here are some of the most common things that people are worried about when faxing online and how to ensure your fax data is secure.

Is there an audit trail for your fax documents?

There is basically a centralized document delivery hub for the faxes you send. Throughout the entire document delivery process, each step is managed electronically, and there are routing rules that control how and your faxes are sent and received. The information can be exchanged electronically, in real time directly from your applications and without manual intervention. You will be able to trace the document from the time it leaves your application until the time it is received.

Are your faxes being received by the right people?

Online faxes are tamper-resistant. The faxes you send are directly sent to an end-users email inbox, which means they are not sitting out in the open like they would be if sent to a traditional fax machine. When the fax arrives to you or to your intended recipient, it is tamper resistant and cannot be edited without any change appearing in the audit trail.

Are there security issues?

Sending a fax via the internet eliminates the security risks that are often associated with stand-alone fax machines. Most online fax services offer extra layers of protection with encrypted delivery options, which help to diminish the risk of confidential information getting into the wrong hands. Your documents are delivered to the intended recipient in a tamper-resistant format that is protected from corruption.

To put your mind at ease when it comes to the safety and security of sending online faxes, keep in mind that there is an audit trail for each fax you send and receive. Each step along the way is automatically recorded, stored, organized and available for current and future auditing purposes. You are able to track the history of the fax, provide and receive verification of the fax delivery, route the incoming faxes to an individual email inbox, and assign access passwords to only those who are permitted to send and receive faxes. 

Which internet fax services are the most secure?

Efax offers SSL/PGP security, lets you sign and fax documents online and offers a larger amount of secure online storage space than other online fax services. Other online fax providers have comparable security and are less expensive. Make sure to thoroughly research online fax services before you decide on which is best for you.

Faxage offers unlimited accounts, comprehensive options, API integration and emphasizes security. You can create a fax through your online account and attach any documents or images from your computer. You also have the option of sending faxes directly from your email as well as right from your Microsoft Office program.

Fax.Plus offers a mobile-friendly interface and cross-platform flexibility. Although this is an online service, you can keep your normal fax number. Fax.Plus is PCI and HIPAA compliant. The service is easy to use and faxes can be signed at the touch of a button. There are different service options, including a free tier that allows up to 10 pages per month for sending, with no option for receiving and paid plans with a starting price of $4.99 a month for 100 pages.

Now that you have some information on the security of online faxes, you can find an online fax service provider that fits your needs. Once you make the switch, you can rest easy, knowing your faxes are safe and secure.

Image Credit: junce / Getty Images
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