All the surveys and research confirm it: the single most useful component of
the modern internet is email.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Postal operators around the globe have discovered to their sorrow that a click
of the "Send" button is replacing the lick of a stamp at a rapidly increasing
Even the companies that make fax paper have recorded a decline in sales --
albeit this trend has been even more exacerbated by a shift to ink-jet
printing mechanisms in modern fax machines.
However, with the speed, convenience and low cost provided by email comes risk --
sometimes a very high risk.
The very real risk that you'll send some important information to the wrong
Yes, it does happen -- as an item on the 6 O'clock news showed last night.
According to the report, sensitive and confidential medical records were
accidentally sent to the wrong email address. The recipient had no need,
nor any right to receive the information -- but it arrived in his mailbox
Of course even in the days of paper and ink or the fax machine this sort of
thing could still happen. Every now and then someone would pop a cheque
in the wrong envelope or misdial a fax number -- but seldom with such
risk of disaster.
Obviously people are growing increasingly aware of this potential for
disaster because I'm noticing an increased number of emails which carry
a little warning on the bottom that says something like:
"If you are not the intended recipient of this email then you must not
read it, remember it, pass it on to any third party, leave the room,
make any calls or perform any other action which might compromise the
privacy and security of the information contained herein. You are a bad
bad person and will suffer eternal damnation for your actions in opening
this message you evil sod"
Well, perhaps that version was a little over-dramatised, but you know what
Once again, such notices are not new -- you'll find them on the cover page
of just about every faxed communication from a lawyer or accountant -- they're
just covering their backsides in case they accidentally send details of your
pending bankruptcy to your major competitor by mistake.
What I do find interesting though is that more often than not, these notices
are longer than the message which accompanies them!
I also wonder -- why, if you're not supposed to read the email that they
accompany, are they always at the bottom of the message rather than the top?
Of course the use of such lame warnings shows nothing but complete and utter
laziness on the part of the sender. If you really want to make sure that
the information inside an email is protected from unauthorised viewing then
Encryption is neither hard nor expensive these days so anyone who doesn't
use it to protect their valuable or confidential data is just dumb -- probably
so dumb that they never even realised that putting the "If you have received
this message in error" warning at the bottom is really counter-productive.
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