How your Email could land in the Wrong Inbox

By: Standss Contributor , Nov 1st, 2022

Email has made business communication easier and more convenient, however, it is a source of data breaches as well.

Employees mistakenly sending emails to the wrong person cause many data breaches.

A misdirected email is any email that is sent to the wrong person, or the wrong attachment has been added to the email.

The email may contain sensitive and confidential information, third-party personally identifiable information (PII) or bank account information. If data of such nature lands in the wrong inbox, it can cause a breach of data privacy. It can cost your business in terms of financial damage, loss of trust and reputation.

In this article, we will look at some of the most common errors that lead to misdirected emails.

The following are some potential causes of the error:

1. AutoComplete

An average office worker receives around 121 emails and sends about 40 emails each day.

It’s obvious that to speed up the process, many people rely on the AutoComplete feature.  The AutoComplete list is updated automatically after sending emails. Then AutoComplete feature raises the risk of sending email to unintended recipients. The AutoComplete feature was designed to prevent users from making typo errors when entering email addresses. Unfortunately, autocomplete can also cause you to send emails to the wrong person.

People tend to make this email mistake because recipients have the same first name or initials as the intended recipient and people accidentally add them to the address list without noticing the error.

Consider the following scenario:

An HR manager working at Company A wants to email an employee Susan Smith from the Purchasing department regarding contract renewal and salary package. Coincidentally, there is another employee by the same name in the IT department in the HR manager’s contact list.

The HR manager can inadvertently inform the wrong Susan Smith regarding contract renewal and salary package which can result in a major breach of privacy.

2. Spelling mistakes or mistaken identity

One of the most common causes of misdirected emails is when you accidentally enter the incorrect spelling of the recipient’s name.

Busy employees who are constantly on the move, juggling deadlines can make errors like misspelling an email address.

3. Accidental “Reply-All”

When an email conversation involves multiple people, things can get a little tricky. Knowing how to use To, Cc and Bcc correctly is an important part of email etiquette that everyone needs to know. When you receive an email that was sent to multiple recipients with addresses in the To and Cc field, you have two options before you:

Reply: By selecting this option you only send the email to the sender. You can manually add other recipients if you want to.

Reply-All: By selecting this option, you will send the email to everyone part of the conversation.

If you hit Reply-All you might accidentally send confidential information to unintended recipients.

Another point that you should always be mindful of is that you should never do a Reply-All on an email you have been Bcc’ed on. If you do a Reply-All other people would come know that the sender added, you secretly to the conversation. This could lead to embarrassing situations, which anyone would want to avoid.

4. Accidental Forward

On some occasions you can accidentally forward the email to the wrong recipient if you are not fully focused on whom you are sending the email to.

Some tips to prevent common errors that lead to Misdirected Emails

Review the email before sending

It’s always a safe email practice to review your recipients and email content before clicking send.  This may sound simple enough to do, but many people do not pay heed to the need to review their email as they are constantly juggling deadlines and deliverables.

Add the email address last

Entering the email address last allows you time to think whether the email you are sending is for the intended recipient and it also allows you time to check your email before you send.

It’s also a good idea to delete the recipient’s email address when you are replying to emails and only add the recipient’s address when the message is ready to send.

Do not Rush

We often make mistakes when we are rushing. Take the time to check your recipients, attachments and email content before you hit send.

How to Prevent and Stop Misdirected Emails?

Busy, fatigued and distracted employees don’t double-check their emails before sending them.

Mistakes happen, and businesses need to understand that their employees can make mistakes like sending confidential emails to unintended recipients under stressful work environments.

You need a fail-proof way to force your employees to slow down and double-check the email you are sending.

You need the correct safeguards in place to protect your business from data breaches caused by email misdelivery.

The good news is that technology can prevent email data breaches.

SendGuard for Microsoft Outlook is a governance, risk and compliance solution for outbound emails. Before sending emails, it verifies the content of outgoing messages and prompts the sender to promptly confirm recipients, attachments, and any sensitive information. Emails can also be blocked based on your organizations policy.

Many businesses around the world use SendGuard to stop data breaches caused by human error on email and achieve compliance with strict data-privacy laws like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, Australian Privacy Act, POPIA (South Africa), and other national/regional data privacy regulations.

You can build your own DLP rules in SendGuard to detect sensitive data patterns and keywords inside the email body and within attachments. With regular expressions, you can detect personally identifiable information in emails to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

We can also add other features your organization requests based on your organization’s security requirements.

Interested to learn more.

Contact us on sales@standss.com to schedule a short demo.

SendGuard for Outlook

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Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

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