Virgin Media on Wednesday advised customers not to respond to an email sent by one of the company’s vendors because they would in effect be sending their responses to everyone else who received the same email.
Graham Cluley has the details of what happened. It turns out that Virgin Media wanted to let customers know about some changes to the way they sign in to the Google service with their virgin.net email address.
However, since an improperly configured mailing list was being used, if users replied to emails by pressing the “reply all” button, their messages were sent to all members of the mailing list.
Some of those who received the responses also responded. Customers ended up with hundreds of spam emails in their inboxes. As they continued to reply to messages and implicitly spam themselves, users also exposed their email addresses.
âA small proportion of our customers have received an email from one of our suppliers which, if they respond to all of them, it goes to a larger group. We are investigating exactly what happened and, in the meantime, are not recommending people responding to this email. We apologize for the inconvenience caused, âsaid representatives of Virgin Media.
âPlease note that this only affects customers currently using a virgin.net email address,â they added.
While Virgin says only a small portion of customers are affected, The Daily Mail says there could be as many as 130,000 email addresses involved in the incident.
Many customers of the telecommunications company are unhappy with the way the situation has been handled. Some believe the company should have contacted them.
“I hope the Data Commissioner takes this very seriously,” said a disgruntled customer, as quoted by The Daily Mail.
“Even though it doesn’t appear that anyone maliciously abused the shit, it was clearly a nuisance to the people on the list as they would have received hundreds of messages in their inbox, effectively drowning their mail. legitimate, “Graham Cluley noted in a blog post.
âIf you manage a mailing list, please be very careful about how you set it up. Otherwise, you could end up like Virgin Media – having to apologize over and over again, âthe expert advised.
The ICO has been known to issue fines to organizations responsible for mail errors, but incidents typically involve sensitive information. In this case, only a small number of email addresses were exposed.
Update. The ICO is investigating the incident.