• Beware of the fine print

    The other day I retired an HP color laser all in one that I had here at home because my Sister was about to chuck it out the window. It would get jammed. It would stop and “clean” constantly. So I replaced it with a Lexmark MC3426i unit. Now this unit is not for the faint of heart. First off when it says it’s a “Multifunction Wireless Printer with Print, Copy, Scan and Cloud Fax Capabilities” beware on that last part.  When it says “Cloud fax” it does NOT mean a plain old analog fax that uses a phone line. Nor does it mean a free cloud faxing service built in. Rather it means a trial for a cloud fax service and if you want it to continue you have to pay for it. I found it fascinating that there is a hole in the back of the unit where the faxboard USED to be. So if you go shopping for a multi-function fax machine – beware of devices that include “cloud fax”. That just means it has a hook into an online faxing service.

    On the back of the unit they even still have a plastic hole where the fax machine USED to be connected with an analog fax board, but clearly the manufacturer deems faxing with a phone line to no longer be used.

    Slowly but surely faxing is starting to die out. Once upon a time we lived on faxing. Everything was faxed. Now we are emailing or sending PDFs.  Back in the day there was a specific fax board that was the best computer faxing board around. If you depended on faxing, this was the board to have. The Brooktrout board.

    So here’s a dirty little secret about faxing. We think it’s more secure than email. It’s not. If someone intercepted that screeching sound transmission and had a receiving device listening, they could read that transmission. It’s not protected as it transmits across phone lines. It’s just HARDER to hack into a fax machine versus a computer. A fax machine also can’t be phished like a human can be with email. Typically as well the fax machine is less connected to the rest of the network. Especially with fax machines connected to phone lines, they typically were not connected to the RJ45 connection. If, however you had a device like the Brooktrout in your workstation or server, and if the attacker knew your fax machine answered at a certain number, and if the attacker send a specially crafted signal to the fax/brooktrout board, then they could, in theory, do potential bad things on a network. But as you can see from that, there are a lot of “ifs” in there. It’s easier to phish someone. But that’s not to say in theory fax machines connected to network devices bring vulnerabilities, but then too do humans and keyboards.

    So what technology did you rely on then, is now being slowly killed off?  Did you rely on faxing?