Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Electronic Fax Security - Is it safe?

Electronic Fax Security - Is it safe?
We receive a great deal of questions from our clients about the safety and security of their customer data. While a layered approach always seems to be the best practice, we find that most of our clients make assumptions about certain methods of communication - especially e-mail and electronic faxing. We at ZoNE-X felt compelled to share our insight on one of the many misconceptions that is prevalent in current times.

What is electronic faxing (E-Faxing)?
Electronic faxing, or E-Faxing, is a method used to convert traditional faxes into electronic format (either TIFF, JPG, GIF, or PDF) that can be accessed via a computer. Most times it is subscription based, meaning you pay an outside or 3rd party service provider to utilize the service. Rather than relying on a physical device to receive your fax and transfer it to paper, E-Faxing can deliver a document that will show up on your computer screen. Not only is this a great time saver, but it is a great resource to make an effort towards "going green" by conserving paper, electricity and eliminating an extra device to maintain.

If I am the only person who receives the E-Fax, isn't it secure?
A common misconception is that something that can only be seen on your computer screen is safe from prying eyes. Most people feel that as long as no person can physically see the item on their computer screen, then it is safe from unwarranted access. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything that is carried over your company network, let alone the Internet, can be accessed by a clever individual. Assume that anything that opens up very easily, or can be accessed by a few clicks, is more than likely an insecure data source or document. Here's why...

Why is my E-Fax not safe & secure?
Most electronic faxing occurs with the help of an outside service. Some of the popular services are J2, E-Fax, and FaxMicro. All offer different levels of service, depending on your specific needs. But there is a common link - they all primarily use e-mail to deliver the faxes to your computer. This is where that warm fuzzy feeling starts to fade. With a traditional telephone line, it would require direct physical access to either the receiver or the sender's telephone line (at the building or inside the office) for someone to intercept a fax communication. E-Faxing is secure up until the point it becomes an e-mail message and is delivered to your inbox across the Internet.

Why is this an issue?
As a result of the fact that faxes are held with high regard to be legally binding documents (by faxing a signature, you can be held liable for most legally binding transactions), you can easily see the need to safeguard the information contained therein. But, as most people (at unfortunately) do not understand, e-mail is one of the most INSECURE methods of communication on the Internet. It is the non-physical counterpart to sending a postcard through the postal service. Anyone who wants is able to read your postcard (and you will never know). Just the same, anyone who wants, and has the technical ability, can read your e-mail. As such is the case, they have access to all that juicy information contained within each and every e-mail you feel is a one-way link to your intended recipient - and we mean ALL OF IT!

This basic fact arises - E-mail is insecure; therefore anything received via e-mail is insecure. (E-mail = Not Secure)

With the exception of encrypted e-mail (certificate/key based encryption), 100% of your private communications via e-mail are in fact... NOT PRIVATE. If someone really, really, really wants to take a peek at those personal photos, videos, or E-Faxes you are sending as attachments, they CAN and they WILL.

Should I use E-Faxing for my fax needs?
The answer is YES and NO - as it depends on your specific situation. If you have a duty to your customer to protect their private data/information that is a regular part of what you receive via fax, then you should absolutely NOT USE an E-Faxing service. If you only receive basic documentation and nothing exceptionally personal, private, or copyrighted, then using E-Faxing is a great tool. There are methods to receive E-Faxes to a device at your office, which does not traverse the Internet. This is much more secure than using a 3rd party service. However, that crafty co-worker who wants to steal your business leads may simply access your files and see what is in that E-Fax - but corporate theft is a different topic all together.

I am confused & concerned... What should I do now?
At ZoNE-X, we are problem solvers. Send us a brief message with your specific issue. We can help you find a solution or walk you through your concerns until you arrive at a 100% satisfactory resolution. Give us a call at: +1 (877) 77-ZONE-X or +1 (877) 779-6639 or visit our website at:

Find out how ZONE-X can help your Small Business with IT Services & Support

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Does your Business need a Server?

Is Our Business Ready for a Server-based Network?

Many small business owners are reluctant to interrupt operations and invest the time needed to switch the companies’ computers from a peer-to-peer (P2P) network to a server-based one. While the fears of down time may be understandable, these entrepreneurs are ultimately compromising their businesses.

Why? By moving from P2P to a server-based network, small business owners should discover that the long-term gains in efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, profitability, will far exceed any short-term losses that could be incurred by making the switch.

Small Business Networking
A P2P network allows employees to share content files – anything from audio, video, data or any file in digital format – between their computers. In a P2P, the computers, or nodes, essentially act as both servers and client systems, allowing employees to pull files from different computers connected to the network.

At first glance, P2P seems to be a viable solution for budget-conscious small businesses. But the reality is much different. The fundamental problem with P2P is that it drastically reduces the processing speed of each node. This is because each computer in a P2P must act as a both a repository for information and workstation. For example, while you are working on a document from your computer, one of your employees may be retrieving a different file also stored on your computer. As a result, your computer slows down to fulfill both requests.

A server-based network instantly wipes out this headache, because the server – and not individual computers – is the information hub. As a result, your company can realize dramatic improvements in efficiency, productivity – and the bottom line – in the short term and well down the road.

Server Purpose and Set Up
Because they are designed to be considerably faster than P2P networks, server-based networks would seem to be the obvious choice for businesses of all sizes. But for years, many small businesses have been intimidated by servers, believing them to be expensive and challenging to set up, maintain and support. Today, however, server technology is affordable and within reach of smaller companies.

For example, Megan Duckett, founder of Sew What?, Inc. -- a company in Rancho Dominguez, Calif. that produces custom-made curtains, drapes and stage settings for concerts tours, theaters and other special events – recently upgraded her server-based network to allow her business to keep up with rapidly growing customer demand. After installing a server, Duckett and her staff saw immediate productivity improvements.

"Our Web site helped our business grow more than 75 percent in 2006 and managing all of the business it generates requires a lot of storage – from global customer information to thousands of drapery and fabric images to QuickBooks files," said Duckett. "With the power and scalability of our new server, we still have plenty of room to grow and soon will be able to host our Web site in-house. I never dreamed that the tiny business I started on my kitchen table would grow into the global business we have today."

Beyond the ability to provide dramatically faster processing speeds than P2P networks, server-based networks offer a wide range of business benefits, including one advantage that small businesses are increasingly coveting: the ability to better manage security of information and store all business-critical information in one repository.

Because the goal of many companies is to grow, small businesses are looking for technology that can grow with them. Servers that are affordable – yet fully scalable – can do exactly that. In fact, it’s not unusual for a company to begin with only a handful of employees and grow to dozens, using the same server along the way.

Because the goal of many companies is to grow, small businesses are looking for technology that can grow with them. Servers that are affordable – yet fully scalable – can do exactly that. In fact, it’s not unusual for a company to begin with only a handful of employees and grow to dozens, using the same server along the way.

  • File and printer sharing

  • Increased e-mail limits and shared calendars

  • Desktop faxing

  • Remote Access & Remote Workers

  • Internet and intranet access

  • Improved multi-level firewall security

  • Simplified management

  • Flexibility to add additional servers

These and other potential benefits explain why small businesses are increasingly beginning with – or switching from P2P networks to – server-based networks.

Servers are built to manage data from multiple users at the same time. While one person is saving files another person could be retrieving files at the same time.

Having a server-based network is also a great way to help ensure reliability. One way servers accomplish this is by having multiple internal hard drives. For instance, if you get a server with two hard drives you can have a mirror setup where the data that you save to the server is being copied to both hard drives. If one hard drives happens to fail then the other hard drive keeps the server running and has all of your files intact and accessible.

Another way a server can help ensure reliability is through the use of multiple power supplies which are available. On a personal computer, if your power supply goes out, you’re pretty much down. However, if a server has redundant power supplies and one of them goes out, the other power supply will take over ensure continuous activity.

Types of Servers
Because every business is different, we offer various servers to meet the needs of our customers. Tower servers can deliver key features crucial to small businesses and remote facilities. They provide high performance in free-standing formats in with rich, highly configurable solutions. The latest chipset technologies can boost versatility, helping make them extremely reliable for even the most complex business needs.

Rack servers are reliable, space-saving solutions designed for expandability. These servers are capable for a range of performance and scalability requirements for different businesses. They help you protect your mission-critical business applications and make the most efficient use of your server space.

Support & Guidance Offered
To help decide which servers provide the type of benefits you need to meet the unique business goals of your company, please use the link below to find out more information.
To learn more, please contact ZoNE-X consulting for more information

Toll Free: +1 (877) 77-ZONE-X (1-877-779-6639)