Gmail Fax Security Measures
Security when transmitting faxes is extremely important, especially if you work in fields like law, healthcare and finance, where there are strict regulations governing the sharing and faxing of sensitive information.
Organizations of all kinds still choose fax as the preferred method to share documents, even when sharing a file these days is as easy as using an instant messaging app. That’s because they value security above else. Despite all the conveniences of instant messaging, we have been proven time and time again that mass-oriented online messaging technologies are not as safe as we would want to.
Faxing with a machine on the other hand is relatively secure. The document travels directly to its recipient using an analog phone line, and there is no chance that this information gets intercepted. On top of that, you get a confirmation when your fax is fully printed on the other end, unlike modern apps that have the option of hiding this information.
But what about faxing from Gmail? If we are using the email channel, does this means that our documents are vulnerable? In this article we will take a look at these questions. You’ll learn that email faxing is actually more secure than traditional faxing.
Understanding How Email Fax Works
This is what happens when you send an email to fax:
- You compose an email message with an attachment
- The email goes your online fax service’s fax servers, where the attachment is converted into a fax file.
- The service encrypts this information and sends it to the receiver’s fax machine.
As you can see, you are not sending the fax to another email. You send it for conversion on the service’s fax servers which act as a protective “wall” against interceptions. The document goes then through additional security measures before reaching the fax machine.
The only way other people can read a fax you send is if your email information is compromised. That’s why it is recommended you use a strong password and change it at least every month. Gmail lets you know at the moment of creating your account if your password meets the strength criteria.
On the other hand the online fax service gives you maximum security. With additional options designed to ensure your documents arrive safely and privately.
Security Features of Email Fax Services
Password protection. On your service’s settings area, you can add password protection for faxes arriving to your email. enter and confirm your password, and next time a fax arrives your email, it will contain PDF protection, meaning only you can read its contents. The password can be changed or turned off at any time without accessing Gmail.
Encryption. Before your fax travels from the fax servers to the receiver, they will be protected with point-to-point encryption. This type of encryption adds a cover to your data, effectively hiding it.
Automatic fax removal. You can set your faxes to be deleted from your account after they have been opened. This option can remain active for scheduled amount of time.
Unique file types. There are some providers that have developed their own apps to open encrypted faxes. They basically deliver your fax in a unique file format, that you won’t be able to read unless you use the app or program. It’s a very ingenious way of handling additional fax security, although it depends on the operating system you are using.
Access Control. Corporate online fax services let you access all your faxes from a virtual drive. This cloud storage is protected using 256-bit AES encryption.
What About HIPAA Compliant Faxes?
If you work on healthcare, you must ensure your faxes are not only 100% secure, but are also HIPAA-compliant. The HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which states that:
“Individually identifiable health information should be protected with reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate access, use, or disclosure.”
Luckily, the best fax services are able to provide this kind of security, but you have to ask for it at the moment of creating your account, or by opening what is known as a “corporate” account. The service must hand you a “Business Associate Agreement” for this purpose. In this agreement your online fax service will be determined as your HIPAA fax partner. The agreement is required by HIPAA HITECH.