Before email there was the facsimile, commonly known the absolute worst way to contact a person.
The facsimile or fax, has become less popular as better communication tools have emerged but many printers still carry the functionality for legacy support. The big question today however is not why fax is still around but rather how secure the protocol is.
At the weekend, Check Point Software Technologies showed off an exploit that could compromise a fax machine over a phone line. The exploit doesn’t require an attacker install malware on your network but rather transmits the malware over a phone line to a fax. You can check out the hack in action in the video below.
As you can see from the video an attacker can use the compromised fax machine to infect other devices on a network using the EternalBlue exploit that made WannaCry so effective.
“This alarming research was carried out on HP fax machines, however the same fax communication protocols are used by other fax machine vendors and our team of analysts has every reason to believe the same exploit can be applied to fax machines of other vendors,” Check Point said.
HP has already seeded a patch for this exploit and we do hope that other manufacturers follow close behind and deliver security patches pronto. As Check Point says, this is not about hardware flaw but rather the underlying protocols that allow a fax to be sent. The firm goes so far as to say that online fax2email services might suffer from a similar vulnerability.
The video above also shows how an attacker can grab documents
For businesses that use fax machines regularly Check Point advises network segmentation. This removes the fax machine from a part of a network where the risk of intrusion would be more costly.
Firms are also advised to check for and apply fax machine firmware updates as soon as they are available.
Who would have thought that in 2018 we’d be talking about how fax machines can compromise your network security?