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BBC suspends Blackberry network after mixed-up emails

'Obscure bug' blamed for e-crossed lines

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The BBC has suspended its Blackberry email service after a bug in Research In Motion's server software mixed together snippets from different messages between senior executives.

The bug meant chunks of messages were reaching the wrong recipients. Among the portions of messages scrambled by the electronic crossed line was a discussion on the suitability of fielding Cilla Black on BBC1 sent by the controller of the channel, Peter Fincham.

Siemens, which runs the BBC IT operations under an outsourcing agreement, closed the corporation Blackberry network last week after execs compared notes on a corporate awayday and realised the rogue email problem was far from an isolated problem within the organisation.

Research In Motion, manufacturers of the Blackberry, which boasts 3.65m users worldwide, blamed an "obscure bug" in a specific service pack release for BlackBerry Enterprise Server. "The bug was isolated to version 4.02 and does not exist in version 4.03 or other earlier versions. RIM is aware of a single reported incident of the bug, and responded promptly with a fix," it said.

"The bug related to a rare conjunction of circumstances whereby v4.02 failed to properly compensate for an unusual memory allocation error generated by a company's mail server and consequently appended a partial message to another email. Neither the original message or the appended partial message were ever exposed outside the company's firewall and the bug did not generate any external risk."

"Customers using v4.02 may obtain this fix from RIM or install v4.03," it adds. ®

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