Proofpoint Identifies Top 10 Terrifying Email Blunders of 2008

Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:00am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

What do Halloween and a sent email have in common? Both can be equally
frightening, according to Proofpoint (, the
leading provider of unified email security, archiving and data loss
prevention solutions. With Halloween lurking around the corner,
Proofpoint has identified some of the scariest email issues of 2008.

    These blunders, attacks and mishaps have caused sleepless nights and
financial peril for consumers, corporate executives, politicians and of
course, email and IT administrators.

    In no particular order, Proofpoint highlights some of this year's email
mishaps below:

    1.) Phishing Fiasco

    In September, it was reported that cyber-criminals were launching fake
sites for charities and asking unsuspecting consumers for donations to
help in the hurricane disaster efforts. With any phishing site, people
can be tricked and treated into revealing financial information and often
discover the fraud after it is too late.(1)

    The Proofpoint Attack Response Center reports that "themed" phishing
attacks continue with the latest threats preying on consumer concerns
around the global financial crisis.

    2.) Preying on Palin's Email

    A hacker breached the personal Yahoo! account of vice presidential
candidate Sarah Palin and revealed portions of its content on a site
called Wikileaks. Security experts note that it can be fairly simple for a
determined person to hack into a personal email account, but concerns have
been raised about Palin using her personal email for business issues.(2)
David C. Kernell, son of Tennessee State Representative Mike Kernell, was
indicted earlier this month in the case.

    3.) Obama's Unsightly Spam

    A malicious spam email spread in September claiming to have a link to a
sex video of Obama, but instead included spyware to steal sensitive data
from the victim's computer.(3) Current events and sensational news
headlines -- both real and fictional -- remain popular subject lines for
phish and spam attacks because of their potential to lure recipients into
opening the email or its attachments.

    4.) Emails: Dead and Buried

    Oracle Corp. failed to unearth CEO Larry Ellison's emails that were sought
as evidence in a class-action lawsuit. According to the US District Judge
Susan Illston, Oracle should have figured out a way to comply with the
order to produce the information, which was issued in late 2006.(4)

    5.) Email Job Elimination

    Carat's chief people officer accidentally alerted staffers that their jobs
could be in peril by sending an office-wide email only meant for senior
management. Additionally, the specifics on the talking points of their
restructuring were shared.(5)

    6.) Unhealthy News Anchor Obsession

    A former news anchor, smitten by his female co-anchor was charged with
hacking into her email account 537 times in 146 days, often checking on
her 10 times a day or more. He logged in from both home and work and
passed on some of the information to a Philadelphia newspaper gossip

    7.) Space Encounters

    NASA found a computer virus on a laptop aboard the International Space
Station, which carries about 50 computers.(7) Email continues to be one of
the most common distribution methods for new viruses and other malware,
underscoring the need for organizations to deploy anti-virus technology at
the email gateway, email server and end-user desktop levels.

    8.) Qualcomm's Email Cemetery

    Qualcomm got smacked with an $8.5 million penalty because it bungled its
own discovery of email relevant to a patent lawsuit with Broadcom. As more
courts require thorough discovery searches, mistakes like these will come
to the forefront.(8)

    9.) Batting Back Backscatter

    Stephen Gielda, president of Paketderm, found his servers were being
inundated with a tidal wave of backscatter messages. At one point, he was
being hit by 10,000 bounce back messages per second.(9)

    10.) Angel-O-Lantern

    Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo hit reply rather than forward when typing
'disgusting' in response to a customer's email. The media and the investor
community noticed Mozilo's response. In fact, one investor on a Web site
wrote, "I hope that company gets what they deserve."(10)

    "Given all of the potential risks and costs associated with email, it's no
surprise that nearly 15 percent of IT executives that Proofpoint recently
surveyed said they would eliminate email in their organizations if that
were feasible," said Sandra Vaughan, senior vice president of marketing
and products for Proofpoint. "But email has evolved from a business and
personal communication tool to the most mission-critical application for
most organizations. From courts of law to the race for the presidency,
email security is being taken very seriously. And while email can cause
mayhem, there are solutions available that help organizations reduce the
substantial risks posed by both inbound and outbound email."

    About Proofpoint, Inc.

    Proofpoint secures and improves enterprise email infrastructure with
solutions for email security, archiving, encryption and data loss
prevention. Proofpoint solutions defend against spam and viruses, prevent
leaks of confidential and private information, encrypt sensitive emails
and archive messages for retention, e-discovery and easier mailbox
management. Proofpoint solutions can be deployed on-premises (appliance),
on-demand (SaaS) or in a hybrid architecture for maximum flexibility and
scalability. For more information, please visit

    Proofpoint is a registered trademarks of Proofpoint, Inc. All other
trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.



Proofpoint Press Contacts:

Noah Dye
Email Contact

Marty Tacktill
Email Contact

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