Despite the huge security and confidentiality implications I see this mis-use of email happen daily.
What am I talking about? – Sending an email to multiple recipients and placing everyone in the TO header of the email without any thought about who will read it.
So why am I making a fuss about this? Well in placing all the recipients in the TO header the following problems can occur.
You reveal to everyone who receives the email everyone elses email address.
This is a potential minefield.
- You?may find yourself in breach of the Data Protection Act by revealing customer details to third parties.
- You could be revealing to potential suppliers the other suppliers you have also asked to provide quotes.
- The email may contain internal and external correspondents and you may reveal?private internal email addresses.
The message maybe flagged as spam by the recipient mail server.
Because of the large number of recipients many spam programs may score against this and as such quarantine or even delete your email. Therefore it never arrives!
The recipients could end up on unsolicited mailing lists.
It is possible that the email may arrive to a persons computer or system that is infected with a virus or mailing zombie. This then has access to all these email addresses in which to spread havoc.
Danger, Danger Reply-All!
The dangers of the reply-all button become ever more increased. This is where someone wants to send you a quick reply and instead of hittign reply they click reply-all and everyone you sent the message to also gets the reply. Be very mindful of what that reply could contain!
Doing it safely
Now there are a number of ways you can send an email to a large group of people without revealing their email addresses.
The simplest method is to simply put your own email address in the TO header and everyone elses in the BCC header. This does have disadvantages though such as some systems may see this as a spamming attempt and block the message.
Alternatively talk to your system administrator (or me!) about setting up a mailing list system that allows you to send mail to multiple people by just entering a single email address.