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Out-Of-Office Replies Are Evil

As you may surmise we send this newsletter to a lot of people via email and every time we receive a huge volume of Out Of Office replies. Those of you in small networks or using Outlook Express won’t be familiar with these, but Outlook users in business networks with a mail server like Microsoft Exchange may know they can set up an “Out of Office” reply, which sends the message of your choice to the sender of any messages received. Typical messages are “I’m on holidays until …”. At face value it seems like a sensible way to inform correspondents not to expect a speedy reply, but in reality you’re broadcasting to everyone who sends you a message that not only are you not in the office, you’re probably not home either. Remember the reply is going to hackers and spammers as well as legitimate business partners. So it wouldn’t be hard for someone of mal-intent to send millions of emails and then sift through the Out Of Office replies for people who aren’t at home. Far fetched? Maybe today, but not tomorrow. This sort of hacking is on the rise. Think about how many spam messages you receive that are nonsensical. Are these people trying to sell something or are they just probing your mailbox? If you’re going away, redirect your mailbox to someone else instead.

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