Three real-life stories that show why Email Retraction is mission-critical

March 15, 2019

Email Retraction is mission-critical

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Email is by far the preferred collaboration tool in offices around the world. We all use it, both in very trivial ways and in very important situations. “Hey Carl, here’s this funny picture of my cat that I was talking about”, or “Dear Ms. Customer, I’m very much looking forward to our meeting” are both likely messages to be sent, but what if you sent the message meant for Carl to Ms. Customer instead? Sending a cat picture to a valued customer might not have irremediable consequences, but email can sometimes take a nuclear turn. Did you ever wish you could unsend an email, unclick a link?

 

Story #1 – The hotties list

Retraction - Story 1

Back in 2010, seventeen PWC employees in Dublin caused a commotion that extended way further than the company's walls. They breached the company’s acceptable email policy when they started forwarding around their top 10 picks of office hotties, carefully selected from their new female colleagues, and complete with pictures, descriptions, as well as distasteful comments.  The email ended up being forwarded not only to PWC's 2000 Irish employees but all across Ireland. On the list of recipients were finance companies, law, and technology firms. That's something PWC probably didn't want to be known for but went totally viral.

Read the original story here.

 

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Story #2 – Reply all

Retraction - Story 2

This classic goof-up happened at the end of 2018 when an IT employee of the Utah government set up the stage for what would be later called “Potluckgate” and the “ReplyAll-Pocalypse”.  Maria Peterson, Deputy Director at the Utah Department of Corrections, simply wanted to send an invitation to the 80 people in her division for their annual pre-holiday potluck. What she didn’t know was that her listserv email had been changed to everyone [at] utah.gov. Which meant that 22,000 people were now invited to her division’s party. As the recipients started replying all, she probably thought she would need to plan for more potato salad. Luckily, the outcome of this IT mistake is pretty funny. But what if she had sent confidential information instead of a potluck invitation?

Read the original story here.

 

Story #3 – The usual suspect

Retraction - Story 3

 

This story, which happened to one of the biggest US health insurers, Anthem, is more serious. It all started when a single user, who worked at an Anthem subsidiary, clicked a single tiny link in an email. As you might have guessed, this was a phishing attack, and the consequences of that seemingly insignificant action were discovered only a year after the fact. It gave hackers access to a personal data gold mine – names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, employment history and so on. 78.8 million former and current Anthem customers not only lost control of their personal data but were also at risk of identity theft. The total estimated cost of the breach at the time? 100 million beautiful, hard-earned dollars that could have been spent on frying other, bigger fish. 

Read the original story here.

 

There’s another option: Email Retraction

There is a way to protect your organization or at least mitigate the damage caused by Email whoopsies. That is Email Retraction. Yes the famous UNSEND button. If the three organizations above had had access to this technology we would never have read these stories in our newsfeeds. PWC could have retracted the email before anyone else in Ireland heard about the top 10. The Government of Utah could have retracted the potluck invitation before this simple email became the “ReplyAll-Pocalypse”. And Anthem could have protected their customers by retracting all occurrences of that phishing email before anyone bought into the scam and clicked the link. The sheer size and credibility of these organizations prove that situations like this could happen to virtually anyone. Which probably has something to do with the fact that Gartner considers Business Email Compromise (BEC) one of 2019's top security projects.

Have you ever wished to go back in time before you sent an email or clicked a link? Sadly, it’s not possible. But Email Retraction is.

 

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