Guide to Safe Emailing & Basic Email Etiquette


I created this page in 2008 (regularly updated) in desperation due to the endless times my computers (my livelihood) became infected by email viruses and my email accounts infested with offensive spam - caused invariably by round-robins, chain emails and that ilk. In recent years, an additional email abuse (particularly with Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL) is the hacking or spoofing of email accounts.

I am sure, like myself, you resent spending endless time and expense fixing such damage, especially if you take all the necessary precautions to protect your computers against all possible threats, by:

  • always using Bcc (explained below) to send emails to more than one recipient (mass emails/round-robins);

  • refusing to participate in any kind of 'internet round' emails, and certainly never starting any yourself;

  • using a reputable anti-virus and firewall;

  • avoiding opening unexpected and/or unnecessary email attachments, certainly never from chain emails;

  • never posting your email address on non-secure websites.

If you are this vigilant but continue to be plagued by such menaces, the most likely cause is due to one (or more) of your email contacts circulating your email address (invariably without your consent) in round-robins in the 'To' or 'Cc' PUBLIC address fields for all recipients and the potential world and his wife to see. Considering the snowball effect of such round-robins, this will undoubtedly result in your email address falling into the wrong hands (to spammers, hackers, fraudsters, potential stalkers and anyone wishing to do you harm) sooner or later. 

Imagine the outrage if we did the same with our friends' home addresses when sending Christmas cards, or if we sent everyone in our address book each other's phone numbers without their consent! Actually, broadcasting people's private email addresses in round-robin emails is more harmful, yet some people do it on a regular basis without a thought to the damage and upset is causes as it places our recipients' computers, their privacy and personal safety at risk.

It isn’t merely those silly internet round-robins that are of concern, but round-robin newsletters and notices sent by clubs, classes, organisations, businesses, etc. that we may belong to. Since May 2018 in the UK, such establishments have a legal obligation to send them safely as revealing recipients' email addresses to others breaches the Data Protection Act. Ignorance is no excuse for breaching members’ privacy.

The above has highlighted the damage to our computers and email accounts by failing to use Bcc when sending/forwarding round-robins. 

Another danger to people whose email addresses are distributed in round-robins is that one of the recipients on the list could be someone who wishes to harm another on the list. They might have in the past belonged to the same club/group/organisation – it could be an abusive ex.  Obviously, the last person the victim wishes her/his email address to be dished out to is to her/his abusive ex!  I personally know a couple whose ex, discovering their email addresses, subscribed both of them to many pornographic sites and both their email in-boxes became flooded with very offensive pornographic material. The police were informed, the IP address of the perpetrator identified (the woman’s ex from his home computer) and the couple were urged by the police to prosecute him. 

THIS OTHER  STORY (true or otherwise is irrelevant as the scenario is quite possible) will hopefully raise your awareness of another risk to our personal safety when people publish our private email addresses to total strangers. In this particular case the woman was stalked by someone who received her e-mail address from a forwarded round-robin.

 

If you have any regard for the privacy and safety of your email recipients, please read on.


FORWARD  EMAILS

Every time you forward a "Forward" email, there is information left over from the previous recipient/s who sent it to you, i.e. their names and email addresses. As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds and builds. If one individual forwards a chain email to people in his/her address book, and some of the recipients continue to forward it on, before you know it your PRIVATE email address will have been circulated to thousands of perfect strangers around the world!  

All it takes is for one computer to be hit by a virus and it can spread to every email address/computer  it comes across. Or, someone can collect all those addresses broadcast in the To or Cc field and send junk mail to them or sell them to professional spammers and/or email hackers.  Spammers and hackers pay good money for lists of email addresses to attack, yet people who send mass round-robins incorrectly are actually giving these lists of emails addresses away free of charge!   

Quite apart from the dangers that such email misuse cause is the rate at which they multiply and occupy precious bandwidth, which is unacceptable as it leads to latency on the entire network. 

All this damage because someone thoughtlessly broadcast your private email address for the sake of circulating some silly round-robin, often the sort of unwanted material that have been doing the internet rounds for years that make you want to roll your eyes!  If it isn't yet another joke, it's a  glurgy, sickly-sweet supposedly 'inspirational', or a virus alert that you can practically guarantee is going to be yet another hoax.

Incidentally, whenever you receive any type of round-robin email warnings, if you must waste your time bothering to read them, be sure to check out their validity at snopes.com or hoax-slayer.com before even thinking of taking them seriously.    


 

SAFE EMAILING - WHAT TO DO - REMEMBER BCC!

1. When sending an email to more than one recipient  never use To or  Cc fields otherwise all recipients will see each other's private email address. Circulating email addresses like this not merely places us at greater risk of virus, spam and hacking attacks, but is also a wonderful source for stalkers and breaches data protection regulations.    

To protect the privacy of your recipients’ email addresses list them in the Bcc: (Blind Carbon Copy) field. This works just like the Cc: (Carbon Copy) field except that recipients only see their own email address and no one else's.

If you don't see the Bcc option, click on 'To:' and your address list will appear.  Highlight the addresses and choose Bcc.

When you send using Bcc: your message will automatically say "undisclosed recipients" in the To: field providing security and privacy to all recipients.  

See also  Instructions for using Bcc for MS-Outlook, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.

 

2. If you really must forward an important email, first delete all the addresses that appear in the body of the message. To do this simply click the "Forward" button to enable full editing capabilities for the body and headers of the message.  Remove any "FW:" in the subject line and re-name the subject if you wish. Above all, remember to select Bcc if you're forwarding it to more than one recipient. 

 

3. EMAIL PETITIONS – avoid them like the plague! They state a position, ask you to add your name and address and forward it to people in your address book. They get forwarded on and on and collect thousands of names and email addresses causing potential mass spamming, virus attacks and hacking/spoofing! The completed petition is worth money to  professional spammers because of the wealth of valid names and email addresses contained therein!

If you wish to  support a cause by the click of a button there are hundreds of reputable petition sites on the web, such  as THESE.

 

4. Considering how harmful chain emails can be,  please don't start unnecessary ones yourself, especially the type that tempt recipients to forward on.  Even if you start one in the safe Bcc mode, you can practically guarantee that at least one of your recipients, who decides to forward it to people in his/her address book, won't have a clue on earth about Bcc, let alone think of using it. So, when they forward your 'inspirational' or 'funny' (which are far from funny or inspirational to people who fiercely oppose this sort of email misuse), broadcasting all their recipients' private email addresses to each other, it will most certainly include the original sender's address, i.e. YOURS! 

 

The above has highlighted the damage to our computers, our email accounts and personal safety by failing to use Bcc when sending/forwarding round-robins. 

So, PLEASE respect each other's privacy and safety by following the Bcc rule.  

 

SPREAD THE WORD SAFELY

I personally embed the following message into my emails. I embed it by default, rather than target individual culprits, to spare them the embarrassment of having their offence pointed out. Feel free to use the idea for your own emails,  with a link to this page if you wish.
 

PLEASE NOTE:   I welcome emails but please exclude me from round-robins that disclose  recipients' email addresses to each other. 
See
Safe Emailing explaining the dangers of neglecting this basic email etiquette. Thank you.  ~ Julia

 

Thank you for visiting and for sharing my concerns.

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Julia ~ Manchesterenglishtutor.co.uk

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