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PGP email marketing gaffe creates message storm

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PGP irritated its security conscious customers on Tuesday by making the schoolboy error of sending out an email marketing message to a list of around 300 recipients without using the bcc field.

As a result of the slip-up, all the recipients of the marketing email (extract below) learned the email addresses of other potential buyers. Potential prospects were further inconvenienced when furious replies to the original sender from some people on the list were sent using the "reply all" option, generating a message storm.

At least some of the recipients of the email had recently downloaded trial versions of PGP's software.

A representative of PGP described the error as a one-off mistake, adding that the firm would like to apologise.

From:

Sent: 24 March 2009 13:57

To:

Subject:Re: PGP 30 Day Evaluation.

Good Afternoon

I work in the PGP Business Development team, working with organisations that have a need to prevent the exposure of intellectual property that can result in financial loss, legal ramifications, and significant brand damage. I understand that you may have an interest in securing sensitive company and/or customer data using PGP encryption solutions.

The PGP evaluation that you may have downloaded from the web does not include PGP Universal version 2.8 - a core component of the PGP Platform, for automated operations, key management, password recovery and enforced security policies across the enterprise. I am more than happy to provide this to you, should this be important.

We've removed the details of the recipients to the email and the sender, who's probably in enough trouble already about his mistake without a public naming and shaming. The mistake he made was trivial, but since PGP specialises in email security, it can hardly complain if people hold it to higher standards than would normally be the case. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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