By Robert Cichielo, CTO and founder, etherFAX.
Government regulations require that specific industries, such as healthcare and financial services, comply with data privacy regulations. These compliance requirements serve to protect private, confidential, and sensitive information from unwanted intruders that could attempt to intercept files in transit. Though organizations can take measures to ensure that their email solutions are agreeable to these demands, an email message will typically pass through multiple servers before it reaches the final point of delivery. This indirect transmission method leaves mission-critical documents and other unstructured data potentially vulnerable.
Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation implemented a new policy prohibiting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests via email. Now, people requesting public records must use fax machines, standard mail, or the FBI’s online portal to communicate with the agency’s records management division. While many thought it was a step backward for the FBI to use “archaic technologies” such as fax, industry veterans applauded the FBI’s decision to use one of the most trusted document delivery methods available today.
Communicating via email has many severe disadvantages and vulnerabilities including imminent threats of cyber hacking and hard-drive or server crashes which can compromise sensitive and confidential data. Despite its antiquated image, fax can ensure security, compliance and the guaranteed delivery of business-critical information more than email. Fax’s key role in healthcare data security best practices is the reason why the online fax market is projected to be worth $2.4 billion by 2022.
To guarantee the secure transfer of information between two endpoints, the ideal fax solution must utilize well-defined end-to-end encryption methods such as those defined in the Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES). This hybrid encryption scheme uses Elliptic Curve Cryptography to generate a shared secret between peers to seed the encryption process with unique keying material, while signing and authentication mechanisms assure the validity of the data in transit.
End-to-end encryption not only protects data at each endpoint, it also protects data at rest. Since information is never de-encrypted and re-encrypted, even if a third-party were to snoop on the information in transit, it would be indecipherable. Most importantly, end-to-end encryption schemes allow secure transmissions even over unsecured channels.
Hybrid Cloud Technology
While traditional fax transmissions are hampered by limitations associated with PSTN and telephony infrastructure at “analog modem speeds”, the cloud (a digital network) can offer a different and more effective approach. By leveraging the cloud and delivering all faxes via HTTPS, outdated fax boards, media gateways, and the complex telephony stack are completely eliminated.
Unlike a legacy analog fax infrastructure, hybrid cloud technology can ensure time-sensitive documents are delivered within seconds and are no longer relegated to just images at low resolutions. This allows for files to be sent and received just as quickly, if not faster, than email.
High-Resolution Documents and Rich Content
Diagnostic images such as x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRI renderings must not only be delivered fast and securely, it’s also critical that these images are transmitted with near-diagnostic image quality. Advanced fax solutions can now guarantee that these images are rendered with superior clarity and high-resolution to help both patients and doctors decide on the best care and treatment options. The days of heavy, dark inking on a black-and-white fax sent over a traditional analog signal are in the past. Clear, colorful and high image quality has now been achieved with digital fax.
In summary, fax technology is no longer synonymous with slow machines, phone lines, paper and toner. Today, fax is cloud-based and virtual – providing new ways for government, healthcare and financial organizations to securely send and receive information from a virtually unlimited number of endpoints and devices. Both corporate enterprises and hospitals alike find online faxing a desirable solution for document transmission for its cost-effectiveness, scalability, automation capability and increased cloud adoption.
Healthcare organizations should consider adoption of defense-in-depth strategies to protect patient data. Recent research from Accenture and the American Medical Association (AMA) found that 83 percent of physicians have experienced a cybersecurity attack. Utilizing a fax solution that provides end-to-end encryption can effectively mitigate these security breaches and protect patient health information (PHI). Additionally, fax can securely transport unstructured data while complying with government mandated regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).