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Can Fax Transmissions Be Intercepted?

Can faxes be intercepted?

These days, you are able to send and receive documents in so many different ways, thanks to the new technologies developing very fast.

However, parallel to the new ways of transmitting the information, techniques of intercepting them are developing at almost the same pace. That is why data breaches, email scams, electronic frauds and embezzlement today are an ongoing occurrence.

Having this in mind, maybe the solution is to take a step back and utilize the benefits of the good, old trusty fax machine. But, how secure are fax transmissions exactly? Can faxes be intercepted?

Who Has Access to the Fax Machine?

When you are sending a document using the fax machine, you can never be sure who will see it first. That is one of the arguments against this practice. In fact, most fax machines are held in open spaces, where many people have access to them.

Moreover, as machines are less common these days, some companies choose to receive their faxes at a local copy and print center. Besides, even if the fax machine is held in a private office, there is still the risk of sending the document to the wrong person.

Namely, if you dial the wrong number, the document goes to someone else, before you have even realized the mistake was made.

In addition to that, anyone who ends up receiving a fax that is not meant for them has no legal obligation to disregard the information contained in the message, which is a potentially serious security risk.

Of course, most of these risks can be mitigated with a little preparation and planning. And of course, double checking your information and alerting your recipient prior to sending.

Potential Interceptors

Fax machines do not guarantee confidential data transmission, as their signals can be intercepted by someone who knows what he or she is doing. Especially when that person uses certain available hardware and software tools to do it – which can be relatively easy and inexpensive to set up.

The device used is capable of intercepting both phone line and radio fax signals. In addition, it captures the information in parallel with the transmission, no matter the type of signal used – analog, digital, or an IP-based signal.

Fax transmission interception is a reality and continues to occur, however the practice and use of this interception device is considered a criminal offense.

What Can Be Done?

As electronic interception becomes a more common practice, companies need to be aware of the security threats and try to find a solution. You see, the potential downside of having confidential information stolen through a fax transmission is greater than the cost of mitigating the risk.

All organizations, no matter their size and strength on the market, should conduct an audit to determine how frequently the fax machines are used to send and receive documents. Not only that, the sensitivity of information contained in them should be confirmed too.

Finally, they should adapt their security measures to the situation and research other solutions for transmitting highly sensitive data.

Other Considerations

It’s important to understand that not only faxes can be intercepted. This risk exists for other modes of communication as well – including email and phone. Organizations should evaluate the sensitivity of the information they send and explore methods that balance security, flexibility, and cost.

Positive Aspects of Faxing

Naturally, using fax machines isn’t all disadvantageous. And for most communication needs, it has several benefits. For one thing, you will be able to receive a document hard copy quite fast. It is definitely much quicker than having to send something via snail mail, and in some situations more convenient than other methods which would require you to print.

Moreover, when you fax something, you will be able to have proof of sending. This is because when you send a document through fax, you will be provided a receipt, which you will be able to show to someone as proof that you did, in fact, send it.

One more thing, fax machines are extremely easy to install. The process of installation is straightforward – even those who are not tech savvy will be able to do it well. Not only is the installation easy, but using the machine itself is simple to use. And of course, fax apps exist that allow you to send and receive faxes without even needing a physical machine.

Given the number of industries that still fax with regularity this is a big plus.


To conclude, fax machines may not exactly be the best way to send highly sensitive and important files. This is because they cannot guarantee confidential transmission of the information and can be compromised with moderate effort and at a relatively low cost.

However, it is definitely still a useful device, and offers convenience and ease of use for communication of all kinds. So, despite the fact that it does have its downsides, faxing remains an important and widely used mode of communication.