Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sending emails to multiple people

You ever get an email from someone? Sure you have.

You ever get one of those emails from someone, and that email was sent to a bunch of people? Sure you have.

You ever see an sudden increase in spam from time to time? Sure you have.

You ever think those things are related? Well, you should. Because they might be.

You ever been that person that sent an email to a bunch of people? If you have, you might have also been the person that caused others to experience a sudden increase in spam.

"How?" you ask.

Let me explain.

When you send an email to several people, you have three ways to include people in the list:
  • To
  • CC
  • BCC
You know all this, right? But did you know that if you put a multiple people in the "To" or "CC" fields, you could be causing them to get more spam.

"How?" you ask again.

How comfortable are you that everyone to whom you're sending an email has proper security on their computer? The correct answer is "not at all." Because not everyone has proper security on their computer. And that's the key.

Say you send an email to 10 people. It doesn't matter why. You just have the idea to send an email to 10 people.

Then, say you put all 10 addresses in the "To" field. Or, the "CC" field. Or mix it up and put some in the "To" field and the rest in the "CC" field.

Then, you send it.

Now, say that just one of those 10 people doesn't have good security on their computer. Say their computer got infected with something evil. And that something evil is one of those evil things that reads emails and sends itself out to other people's email addresses it got from those emails.

This means that others will now get more spam. And it'll be three people's fault: the original spammer, the person with the poor security, and you.

Why you? Because you allowed that bad thing to get the email addresses.

How? Because you used the "To" (or "CC") field to send an email to a bunch of people.

Here's a tip: When you send an email to a group of people, put your own email address in the "To" field, and the big list of recipients in the "BCC" field.

Why? Because then, although that one person with the evil thing on their computer will still be infected, that evil thing won't be able to read the other nine people's email addresses.

If you're sending an email to just one person, use the "To" field. But, for groups of people, use the "BCC" field.

Why am I writing this? Because I've been one of the nine people who got an increase in spam because of others' bad habits.

And, if you've included me in an email sent to a big group of people, and you put me in the "To" or "CC" field, then I'm directing this at you.

There's another reason to use the "BCC" field when sending emails to large groups of people, but I'll cover that reason in a later post.

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