Fax is becoming essential as POPI looms closer

The Protection of Personal Information Act will soon come into effect, and companies have to carefully consider how they handle, distribute and use their customers’ information. Fortunately, there are tools that can make this much easier.


One tool that every business should investigate is document management – in all its forms. Document management is a set of rules and standards surrounding the methods of storing and managing all information (in document form) across the organisation. It’s becoming critical – not only because of the risks that are part and parcel of handling sensitive information, but also because of the sheer volume of data that we are accumulating. We need to be able to respond to information faster and more efficiently if we are to compete in today’s rapidly paced marketplace – which means that we need to access, search and share data quickly. Unfortunately not every organisation can implement a complex, effective enterprise-level document management system – but there are ways and means of taking control.


Take faxes, for example. The days of feeding a piece of paper through a noisy dial-up machine, where after it is received and filed along with a stack of other pieces of paper, are long gone. Today’s faxes have an inherent point-to-point audit trail, along with date and time stamps, which means that you are able to track all documents as it travels through the organisation.


Fax servers can be configured to log and archive copies of all in- and outbound faxes. By integrating multifunctional peripheral devices (MFPs) with a fax server, all messaging can be logged – which optimises security. It’s a digital, fast and safe electronic document repository that can be categorised and equipped with retention rules and regulations – including the facilitation and management of access to those documents. It’s an excellent archiving solution that most companies can use – big or small.


The “traditional” fax system comes with a good deal of risk.  Let’s just say the old paper-based fax sits in the corner of the room and Joe Soap is printing something off the same machine. He might see a confidential document containing banking details and read or even circulate it. That’s a significant breach, subject to a fine, without anyone being able to pinpoint the source internally. With the digital system, there is an electronic archive repository and an audit trial, which means that the company can determine exactly who opened each document that was received, as well as whether it was deleted or forwarded.


Fax can be a significant tool to ensure that customer information stays secure. Speak to a service provider about how information travels through your organisation and work with a fax system that will allow you to set up the correct rules for security and retention. 


By Craig Freer, Head of Enterprise Products, Vox Telecom

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