Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
I've recently noticed that a growing number of business Internet
users have been operating under the assumption that they are dealing
with something that is simply an extension of the good old
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are revealed for all to see!
This attitude has meant that they are making some awfully dangerous
assumptions about the security and reliability of such services as
One otherwise quite smart manager I spoke to recently was horrified
to be told that his important emails were the electronic equivalent
of a postcard and that there was nothing to stop them being read
by third parties as they bounced across the globe.
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He was under the assumption that the fact he had to log onto the Net ensured
his messages were safe from spying eyes.
He also assumed that once the "send" button had been clicked, the delivery
of his emails was guaranteed.
As most Aardvark readers will likely be aware, the Net is neither 100 percent
reliable nor secure.
Those of us who have been using the Net for a few years will have already
discovered this for ourselves. Although the situation has improved dramatically,
lost emails are still something that happens -- and close to 100 percent of
all communications on the Net is done without any form of encryption.
Although the data-links and software involved are becoming more reliable and secure
these days, there are still other ways that your emails can be derailed into
the giant bit-bin of the Net.
One of the most common is when the sender mis-addresses an email, using an
email address that is wrong -- but turns out never the less to be that of
a valid mailbox somewhere. Your message won't bounce -- but nor will it arrive
at the intended destination. No errors have occurred and the only way you'll
know there's been a problem is if the actual recipient is kind enough to
let you know or when the intended recipient bitches about its non-arrival.
Another increasingly common "black hole" is spam filtering.
As the tide of unsolicited commercial email continues to rise, many mail
services, ISPs and users are adding increasingly sophisticated filtering
systems. Sometimes these filters are just too clever and inadvertently
mark a genuine message as spam.
While the better systems tend to simply divert messages marked as spam into
another folder, it's still very easy to overlook checking that folder for
days or weeks at a time. This means that a critical email might not be
read until it's too late -- or perhaps never.
So, if you've got a very important communications that just has to get through
you might want to consider picking up the phone and actually talking to a
real person for a change. Or at least follow-up that email with a call
to make sure it has arrived safely.
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