a woman receiving fax while on the phone

Still using fax? You could be exposing your entire corporate network. Source: Shutterstock

There are no good reasons for using fax in 2018

BELIEVE it or not, several businesses communicate over fax messages today.

Regulators, lawyers, bankers and real estate businesses are some of the people who tend to favor fax, especially when signatures are required quickly.

That must change soon, if businesses want to keep their cybersecurity efforts from falling apart.

A recent report by Check Point Research revealed that hackers could take over a network with just a fax number.

Most faxes today are an additional functionality on all-in-one printer devices. For the fax function to work, the machine is connected to a public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone line. At the same time, the machine is connected to the corporate network through Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.

An attacker can thus send a malicious fax to the all in one printer to gain control of the machine. It then acts as a door for them to gain access to the network connected to said device.

In a nutshell, attackers are able to exploit fax protocols, to access your entire IT network.

What’s concerning, is that all it takes is a phone number, which is widely available on public domains or business cards.

Although the exploit was carried out on an HP printer, researchers believe that it applies to products by other vendors as well as to online fax services, all of which use the same protocol.

HP has since rolled out a patch on their devices.

To protect against fax attacks, Check Point suggested that businesses segment their networks. This means keeping sensitive files on a network that is separate from the one that is connected to the printers.

According to a survey conducted by IDC last year to assesses the state of fax usage within organizations, fax usage was steady or had grown over the past year. In figures, fax usage grew an average of 27 percent year over year among those who reported increased use. It is expected to grow by an average of 25 percent over the next two years.

IDC believes that digital fax technology can play a role in transforming an organization’s document-centric business workflows by integrating with the document-intensive workflow automation ecosystem and enabling new connections. However, in order to make this possible, faxes need a major security upgrade.