Nearly 20 years after the start of the new millennium, it’s normal to think that something like fax technology would be headed the way of the Dodo, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is something many people, particularly tech bloggers and journalists not very familiar with fax technology, can’t seem to grasp.
Every so often you will see publications running stories with baffling headlines like “Why do people still fax?” and “How is fax not dead yet?” They all state the same thing: fax is old and email should have replaced it years ago, but why hasn’t it? It’s an easy to answer question. It’s because fax is simply more secure than standard email.
Here’s a few reasons why:
#1: Emails are Easier to Fake
Spammers and scammers routinely try to trick people into opening emails that contain malicious viruses, and one of the ways they do this is to create emails and email addresses that look like they are coming from legitimate sources. This is fairly easy to do because the only things an email shows upon receipt are the sending address and subject line.
Faxes are far more complicated to forge. You can forge the content to make it look like it is coming from someone else, but there it’s impossible to disguise where a fax is coming from because of the amount of data that is exchanged between the sending and receiving server. Fax servers essentially have a digital fingerprint that is easy to authenticate.
#2: Emails Can Bounce
While not a security issue in and of itself, bounced messages are nightmare when it comes to federal regulations. When an email bounces, the notification is never immediate, and it can even take days for a “soft bounce” to register and for a person to be notified the email failed to be received. Emails that bounce can even be rerouted to a systems admin, resulting in the unintentional disclosure of protected information. When faxes fail to send or register some sort of communication error, they will usually retry the send. If they cannot reach a server, users are generally notified that the fax failed to send right away.
#3: No Confirmation of Receipt
When you send an email, there is no confirmation (short of a reply) that the person received the message. It’s easy for users to check the send status of a fax to confirm it has been delivered to the intended recipient.