Why Fax Machines Pose a Risk to Health Data

Posted on in Cybersecurity

Is It Time to Ditch the Telefax?

Many health care organizations still use fax machines to communicate information. If the physical data is not disposed of properly, it can present a major risk to the organization and their patients. If your organization is still on the fax machine train, here’s why you may want to consider an alternative.

When was the last time you sent or received a fax? If the answer was anytime in the not so distant past, it’s time to change up the communication protocols at your organization. Because these have been in use for so long, many don’t consider them hackable or attractive to hackers.

The primary and most obvious risk is patient information being sent to the wrong number. One wrong click can quickly send personal information without a cancellation option. Additionally, did you know that all a hacker would need to crack the device is the fax number? And many organizations will even display their fax number front and center on their website or provider business cards.


  1. Fax machines have absolutely no encryption. A cybercriminal would simply need to tap into the fax number line and they would be able to intercept any information being sent.

  2. It goes beyond just intercepting a phone line to steal information. If your fax number is tied to the internal network of your organization, all the hacker would need to do is send an ill-intentioned fax in order to enter the entire network. It is almost similar to leaving the door wide open with a flashing sign saying “hackers welcome.”

  3. After accessing the internal network, they would be able to import harmful software attacks and take over poorly protected devices and their data.

Hardware Exposed

Unfortunately, there are many times when fax machines don’t get disposed of correctly. Often times, this is because many people don’t realize the information that it holds. When you go to dispose or replace the fax machine, it can hold as much as the last 40,000 pages of information. Even if you had someone come to make repairs on the machine, they would be able to take the private information they wanted off of it with ease. This is why it is very important to have your machine completely wiped before returning it to the leaseholder or throwing it away.

While this may sound harsh, we would recommend having your fax machine cleared by experts, disposed of and replaced with an online communication system that is encrypted. Learn more about our Hardware/Software service offerings.