echo ''

Virtru Security Insights

Join 10,000+ Security Professionals Who Receive Our Content Every Month

Oxford Fails the Secure Email Test

January 15, 2014

Another day, another story that illustrates the importance of email security. In today’s Telegraph we learn that the esteemed Oxford University inadvertently sent a list of 50 failing students to hundreds of unintended recipients.

An academic administrator sent a message to hundreds of students which contained an Excel spreadsheet with names of students who had failed the test. Here’s an excerpt from today’s story of email insecurity that illustrates that email insecurity has real ramifications:

One of the students affected, who did not [wish] to be identified, told student newspaper The Tab: “…I was pretty gutted after my results last term, but didn’t realise I would be publicly humiliated. I can’t even go into college any more.”

My favorite part of this story is that they followed up with an email to the same list, “please delete the email previously sent out as it contained inaccuracies.”  How’s that for control? Also, what do you think that follow-up email really did? Do you think people deleted that email? Did people think, “Oh, OK, that email contains ‘inaccuracies,’ I’ll go delete it”? No, an email like “Please delete that last email” is like someone waving a huge red flag that reads, “That last email contains juicy secrets, share it with the Telegraph.”

Virtru is a secure messaging platform that seamlessly integrates into existing email services and clients like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. With Virtru you can secure and encrypt your email, and you have control over the email you send even after you’ve sent it.  That’s critical for this story. If the Oxford Administrator had used Virtru, he could have revoked the message or could have controlled who could see and forward it. There’s no reason in the world why any institution should be attaching private student data to an unencrypted email. There’s just too much that can go wrong.

We’re going to look back at these times and wonder why people ever sent anything like this over plain-old email. It creates a steady stream of news stories, but it’s time to give email an upgrade.