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Fax vs. Email Security

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 7/7/2010

This article will differentiate and discuss the difference between fax vs. email security from a content security standpoint.

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    Document Security Differences: Fax vs. Email

    fax machine by Mizonoryu at Wikimedia 

    There are various ways to move data and information from one party to another. Email has become a preferred method of communication as email access is pervasive and access is readily available. In the past the fastest way to move documents around was through a fax machine.

    Distinct differences in the security of the information being transmitted can be observed through both methods of communication.

    Faxing information is fast and can be done with a fax machine and a phone line. Security issues come into play because unless one is completely sure the proper number has been used the information could be received by the wrong recipient. That alone could signal a security breach, depending upon the information being sent. The other security concern is that with a fax machine, it could easily be located in a common area, which means that the information could easily be viewed by others besides the intended receiver. On the contrary, hard, paper documents that have been faxed can readily and visually be destroyed should the information need to be gotten rid of.

    Emailing of documents is more technical by nature, but it allows for people to directly communicate with one another. More often than not, email recipients receive and read their own email which helps stave off the issue of unintended people viewing information. Security comes into play via various ways. To prevent email security breaches one must make sure they are sending the information to the proper recipient. Thankfully email addresses that are entered incorrectly most often bounce back to the sender as the invalid address does not allow for the message to be sent.

    Emailing documents and information also creates a virtual paper trail. Though paper copies do not exist, the documents themselves do and can thus be printed at will. Also, once the sender passes along the information by email, those attachments, text, etc. can then be forwarded to just about anyone else with an email address almost instantaneously. This can cause security concerns especially if the information is sensitive in nature.

    One also needs to be aware that based on archiving, storage, and various other data mandates, emails become part of an ongoing data set and are stored for many years, if not indefinitely. This means to the original sender that something emailed cannot be erased as easily as a paper fax that can be put through a paper shredder and destroyed. The technology behind email and networking means that emails can be retrieved; just because someone deletes an email does not actually mean that it is gone forever. This means that emailing is a fast, efficient form of communication; but it is also a permanent one as well.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Iconshock Office Vista Icons

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