Data Security 01-30-2014

Kill the Fax Machine, Enable Secure Information Exchange


Fast forward to this interesting article from Christopher Null of PCWorld titled “Why the fax machine still lives (and how to kill it).”

Though there might still be a few purposes for fax machines, DigiCert is participating in some initiatives to help bring us forward to a better, more secure way of transferring data.

The fax machine has historically been a useful tool, but more and more it’s a symbol of an earlier era and one we need to start getting away from. The numerous security threats and data security problems that the fax machine creates has enterprise administrators wanting re-enact the classic scene from Office Space where the fax machine is destroyed in a field with a baseball bat.

The Fax Security Crisis

One of the most prevalent security concern from using fax machines today comes from the federal need for ensuring data security, especially health information and personal records.

Securely transferring electronic healthcare records (known as EHRs) has to be done according to strict federal guidelines. Through a method prescribed by the Direct Project as well as electronic signatures, the DigiCert Direct program enables organizations to transfer this data in a way that is legally binding and allows for customization of indicators of trust (DigiCert Document Signing).

Direct Project - Secure Health Information Exchange

The tools exist to better empower patients and their providers in healthcare to improve outcomes, save costs, accelerate the sharing of information, and make the transfer of private health records more secure.

A public-private initiative started by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) under the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (known as the ONC) called the Direct Project is making strides towards killing the fax machine.

The Direct Project was initiated in early 2010 under the direction of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the ONC with the goal of benefiting patients and providers by improving the transport of health information—making it faster, more secure and less expensive.

The Direct Project establishes scalable standards and documentation to support simple scenarios of pushing data from point-to-point in a trusted way that improves interoperability by providing rules-based methods of interstate and interagency sharing. It also improves healthcare outcomes by moving this type of information sharing away from traditional mail and fax methods.

DigiCert and DirectTrust

Through our collaborative work with healthcare leaders as a founding and board member of non-profit DirectTrust, the Direct Project vision is being fulfilled. DigiCert supports companies that are accredited to offer bundled trust services to drive interoperability of a secure, standards-based network to easily transfer secure health records through secure mail, backed by a system of trusted identity assurance.

This year, what is known as Meaningful Use 2.0 kicks in, which will provide incentives for healthcare organizations (HCOs) to begin offering Direct addresses and Directed exchange of EHRs across their platforms. Together with our health information service provider (HISP) partners, DigiCert is working with many of the largest HCOs to make this a reality.

With our accredited trust in the DirectTrust bundles, our expertise in identity validation and digital certificate provisioning, and our cross-certification with the Federal Bridge Certification Authority DigiCert allows HCOs to securely exchange medical records with commercial and federal government entities through a seamless, trusted method of e-mail communication. You'll notice we didn't mention faxes.

Secure Document Signing

Paper records can be hard to keep track of, costly to ship overnight (if deadlines are fast approaching), and they can bog down approval processes.

Now, anyone requiring a large amount of signed documents, such as attorneys, bankers, realtors, or pharmaceutical clinicians can save time and money while deploying customizable, legally-binding signatures. This includes DigiCert’s recent partnership with SureEsign to enable digital signatures that are compliant with FDA standards for submitting clinical trials.

DigiCert Document Signing is trusted by the Adobe Approved Trust List for use with Adobe PDF and other Adobe products as well as other popular document format types such as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice.

Although you can keep fax machines for now, new technology is making fax machines more and more obsolete by making the secure exchange of private information a task that is simple for organizations to implement.


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