People are creatures of habit, which is one reason why email is still such a common means of sending and receiving messages, documents, and data. Email seems safe, it’s controlled by IT, and in the corporate world, most of us participate in corporate-mandated training to teach us how to safely use technology and avoid being fooled by scammers and malicious attacks. But when it comes to transmitting sensitive information, email is the last method we should be using if we want to keep information secure.
What is sensitive information?
Sensitive information has evolved over the years. At this point, most people understand the sensitivity of data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and healthcare-related information (PHI). But other Personally Identifiable Information (also a form of sensitive information) can be found in almost every communication, from items such as a name, address, or even an email address, and those items also need to be handled correctly. Failure to treat sensitive information correctly can incur costly regulatory fines and damage your organization’s reputation.
Why isn’t email a safe way to send sensitive information?
Email was long ago identified as a security gap to be taken advantage of by malicious entities, but other various factors are also contributing to growing security concerns.
- More clever scammers are active each day. Phishing and attempts to gain access to information through social engineering continue to become more sophisticated, and more people are successfully perpetrating this crime each day around the world. In 2021, 83% of organizations reported phishing attacks, and more than six billion more attacks are expected to occur by the end of 2022.
- Even the “big guys” face data breach attempts. Since most of the business world uses Microsoft or Google in some capacity, that means email through these providers are bombarded constantly with breach attempts. Although these companies have been successful overall in responding and hardening their security protocols, breaches do continue to occur. In fact, Microsoft has had seven major breaches since 2020.
- “The Cloud” can create new problems. As more companies move away from self-managed, on-premise servers to the cloud, new issues can arise. For example, if a provider is hacked, all their cloud customers are affected as the hardware running the service is owned by the provider.
- Email is an unreliable way to send data. Even if we take away the susceptibility for breaches as a factor for large services, it is possible for any organization to be hacked, as there are consistent vulnerabilities related to how email functions. A sender has no control of data contained in an email once the message is sent. Emails can be accidentally forwarded or sent to the wrong address, which cannot be undone.
- Email encryption doesn’t equal security. Another evident flaw is that emails, by default, aren’t encrypted. One common solution is to configure your system to encrypt all emails. Yet even with that protocol in place, breaches can still occur. In 2018, a new breach method called EFAIL surfaced and has become widely used to target encrypted emails. In addition to EFAIL, in 2019, another new vulnerability was discovered that is impacting almost 60% of all email servers worldwide. The problem is complex and continually evolving.
So, what’s the best alternative to email to ensure data security?
There are a few different ways to ensure the integrity of data that needs to be sent. One of these technologies has been alive and well for decades — and is often overlooked.
Put a secure fax infrastructure in place
Surprisingly to some, fax is one trusted method of transmission that can counter data security breach attempts. The financial and healthcare industries are already heavily ingrained in the fax world for good reason, as they constantly send sensitive information. Fax is mandated by US government, Japan, and others the for these types of transactions to comply with regulations such as HIPAA, PHIPA, and beyond.
Take advantage of capture technology
Another smart alternative is centralized secure capture. Capture applications create a single point of entry for documents so that as soon as they’re accepted by the application, there are fortified walls built around the documents and data to prevent mishandling, granting access to only permissioned users. With capture, stop blocks can also be easily implemented to prevent documents from entering unsecured locations or being sent to unsavory or unintended recipients based on the content that is contained.
An important note to consider: both fax and capture technology can include tight integrations with other downstream applications such as Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMs), Health Information Systems (HISs), Financial Information Systems (FISs), and many more that allow them to directly communicate with each other through properly hardened channels.
As phishing and hacking methods continue to grow and improve, we must also change the way we encourage staff and employees to do business. Email is no longer an acceptable way to send sensitive information, but fortunately we have existing technology that can head off malicious attempts before they occur. It’s time to take a deeper look at how to implement capture and fax technology to avoid the loss of client and customer data, and we’re here to help.
Ready to get started? Contact the AccuRoute team today to learn more about the possibilities.
Read our guide to learn more about the ways AccuRoute CloudFAX ensures data integrity.
Get a deeper look at the capabilities of Upland Intelligent Capture.
Dive deeper! Read our blog to learn about 5 advantages of online faxing.
 “Top 15 phishing attack statistics (and they might scare you)”, Cybertalk.org, March 30 2022, https://www.cybertalk.org/2022/03/30/top-15-phishing-attack-statistics-and-they-might-scare-you/
 “Microsoft Data Breaches: Full Timeline Through 2022”, Firewall Times, Michael X. Heiligenstein, November 25, 2022, https://firewalltimes.com/microsoft-data-breach-timeline/