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New Control For E-mail Auto-Fill Vulnerability

By Dan Hadaway | Thursday, October 31, 2013 - Leave a Comment

By now our risk assessments should have led us to concern about the risk of accidentally addressing a sensitive e-mail message to the wrong person. A person needs to send a message to “Jane Doe” and she accidentally chooses “Jane Plain” instead. This can be costly: E-mail gaffe leads to billion-dollar news leak.

So for the past several years, the controls we have been preaching for this include:

  1. Being more careful. Warn your employees of this risk.

  2. Have an incident response plan. And consider whether you want to make your comfortable reporting an incorrectly addressed sensitive e-mail.

  3. Show your employees how to disable this feature if they feel they need to. (Or if they have accidentally sent incorrectly addressed sensitive e-mails.)

  4. Show your employees how to shut off auto-send and then review the messages in their outbox before they press send.

Today we ran across a new control for this, suggested by one of our Clients. This is the first we’ve heard of this control. It was a common sense suggestion by a user who had accidently mis-addressed a message a few years back, and thus had been thinking about the problem for a while.

But our Client is now in the HABIT typing the e-mail message first, and THEN typing in the address. She says that this solves many problems for her, including:

  1. The likelihood of her accidentally mis-addressing a message is reduced because when you open an e-mail your mind is often focused on what you want to type, so you are more apt to make a mistake.

  2. She is more aware of who she should send the message to AFTER typing it, and thus she finds herself in her fellow-employees’ inbox less times than before,

  3. Making this change also got her into the habit of carefully checking the “to” line before pressing send.

We love it when our Clients invent new controls that seem to make sense. Let us know how this works for you!

Founder and President, Infotex

“Dan’s New Leaf” is a “fun blog to inspire thought in the area of IT Governance.”


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