Fax Hacking


When was the last time you faxed anything? Been a while? The advent of email and other online messaging tools has tended to make older technologies obsolete. That, however, does not mean that fax machines don’t get used these days. With more than 300 million fax numbers and 45 million fax machines still in use globally, fax is still popular among certain business organizations including hospitals, lawyers, bank, real estate firms and other businesses. Often times it’s because these businesses require actual signatures between multiple parties in different locations.

Many businesses these days have all-in-one devices, which can include a printer, photocopier, scanner, and in some cases a fax machine as well. These multifunctional devices, referred to as MFPs, are often connected to a business’s internal network – which might open them up to potential security problems. A stand-alone fax machine, if still in use, might also be connected to a phone line where there is no security firewall.

The Hack
Protocols that govern fax security were put together in the 1980s and they have not been updated since that time. Understandably, they were not able to envision the issues that face today’s technology. For all intents and purposes, there are no security measures available when it comes to faxing.

It might sound surprising, but your fax number might literally enough for a hacker to gain complete control over the printer and possibly infiltrate the rest of the network connected to it. A reasonably talented hacker can simply send an innocent looking image file via fax (and remember that a fax is just an image file). These image files can be coded with malware including ransomware, malware or surveillance tools, depending upon their targets of interest and motives which, more often than not, include exploiting vulnerabilities and seizing control of an enterprise or home network.

Fax technology began as an analog, but it’s now largely digital. And just like every other digital technology, there is the potential for hacking.

Guarding against the Fax Hack
1) Find out how many networked fax devices, as well as similar networked IoT devices, are currently running in your business environment.

2) Determine which of the devices are connected to phone lines. If they’re connected but the fax feature isn’t being used, then disconnect the phone line.

For more information on securing your faxing devices, contact us today to learn about our managed print and managed network services.

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