Are Our Low-tech Devices Leaking?

Fax machine, voice mail, cellular phone, desk phone... how many of these tools do you use and depend on in the course of a business day? How vital have they become to your business operations? How valuable is the information that passes through these devices every day? How much would a competitor or a hacker like to be able to tap into these resources of yours? If they did, how would you or your company be affected?

Lots of questions to be sure! But just as your telephone and fax machine can be major assets to your business, they are also prime targets of those who would disrupt your business! For example, did you know:

• It's a safe bet that any "out of country" fax transmissions are being intercepted.
• Unattended faxes, like unattended printouts, may as well have a big READ ME sign on them.
• Telephones with LCD displays on them also display your voice mail password as you punch it in, and the "last number redial" feature on your phone can play back your password along with the last number you called.
• For less than $100.00 you can buy a converter which makes any cheap police scanner able to pick up cellular frequencies, including those of portable phones. Although technology provides us with security features such as encryption, password protection, and so forth, remember that a key factor in protecting information is YOU!

Here are a few things you can do:

• When faxing, never fax classified or sensitive information unless both sending and receiving fax units use some method of encryption. Do not fax user IDs, access codes, or passwords, and if possible, do not leave your fax machine unattended, especially if you are expecting sensitive information.
• When using a cellular phone, remember that your calls can easily be monitored. Keep in mind that even though these monitors may be hard to get today, due to changes in the law, millions have already been sold. Don't discuss things on a cellular phone that you wouldn't want to be overheard.
• When using voice mail, remember that your password is visible on phones with LCD displays as you type it in.

Finally, remember that no system is foolproof. The most sophisticated security systems still depend on one key element to make them truly work properly... the end user.

Security begins with YOU!