April 15, 2007
Confidentiality Issues Surrounding "Reply
and Disclosure of: To/cc/bcc Lists
|Identity disclosed to all recipients
|Able to Reply-to-All (to: To + cc)
|Able to Reply (to sender)
- only sender can see the bcc list, in the
private copy of original message, in sent items
- all externally circulated copies (including bcc
recipients) show only To + cc lists
- bcc recipients are always omitted from any Reply-to-All action
- cc recipients are unable to Reply-to-All, as they
are merely observers, not active participants of the thread
- bcc recipients are able to Reply-to-All
- Always use bcc for announcements
- For group discussions, use To/cc as appropriate
- Use bcc to discreetly keep private recipients apprised
But wait, there's more...
- If any bcc recipient uses Reply-to-All, deliberately, or
inadvertently while intending to reply to sender; then
their shadow recipient cover will be blown, and sender's covert
act will be broadcasted to all.
To avoid such faux pas...
Don't use bcc for discreet informing in highly sensitive situations.
- omit the bcc field when sending. Forward the sent message to
your bcc group, with blank To + blank cc list.
- Beware that in this case, the subsequent forward recipients
can see your original bcc list, if you actually used it.
- This is the nature of forwarding a "sent" item, with subtle
(but serious) implications!
- bcc to yourself, then
forward your inbound message to each discreet recipient
- each of them is isolated, and can't Reply-to-All
- they get a sanitized external copy--not a private
- you may add any confidential commentary intended
for that specific individual, in the main message body which
contains the forward
- Remember: with both of these alternative methods, your discreet recipients can still glean the open recipients list(s) with their descriptive names--sometimes along with
actual email addresses (depending on your email program, and how you compose
- with efforts, they might be able to
contact all the open recipients, but
- it won't happen accidentally via a single button
- Finally, you can manually censor
open recipient list, prior to forwarding.