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Karelian

Send-to-all email floods mailboxes of entire NHS

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The Register:  UK NHS 850k Reply-all email fail: State health service blames Accenture

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National Health Service Digital has tried to blame IT outsourcer Accenture for its ongoing email Reply-all woes, even though the cause is almost certainly a combination of user error and a trouble-inviting system config update.

On Monday morning, the NHS' internal email system was brought down by a test message sent by "R," a senior IT facilitator at South East Commissioning Support Unit.

R managed to send a blank message intended for the CroydonPractices distribution list to all 850,000 people with a registered NHS.net email address.

Followed by countless intellectually-subnormal NHS employees replying to say 'take me off the list / stop sending these e-mails / etc.

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Unlikely. Not all of us have NHS.net accounts as individual trusts usually have nhs.uk email for their own trust. Nothing to see here. Move along. 

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I wonder how many people replied to say 'please take me off the distribution list' or 'will everyone stop replying to all'

 

Seen a few minor email storms like this before.

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10 minutes ago, reddog said:

I wonder how many people replied to say 'please take me off the distribution list' or 'will everyone stop replying to all'

Seen a few minor email storms like this before.

Enough people that at 2041 hrs I haven't yet received any e-mails sent to me after 0933 hrs.  This is an effective takedown of an important piece of national infrastructure.  It clearly shouldn't be an important piece of national infrastructure with reliability like this, but unfortunately it is.

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23 minutes ago, Will! said:

Enough people that at 2041 hrs I haven't yet received any e-mails sent to me after 0933 hrs.  This is an effective takedown of an important piece of national infrastructure.  It clearly shouldn't be an important piece of national infrastructure with reliability like this, but unfortunately it is.

I have seen in organisations of circa 50,000 maybe 10 reply to all's saying 'please don't reply to all', to be fair for these organisations, the 50,000 are spread over the planet, thus blunting the effect a bit.

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Where I work people are allowed to blanket email everyone to sell their shite. It's like bl@@dy flea bay. I spend the first hour of each day clearing the rubbish out of my inbox. NO, I DONT WANT TO BUY YOUR TAT. :lol:

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The reporting of this has been really poor, but I guess thats par for the course with most media outlets.

Firstly there is no evidence that the person being currently blamed for all this, actually did anything wrong - she sent a message to an (assumed) small distribution list, thats all.

Who setup the list incorrectly - we don't know.
Who thought it was a good idea to turn on 'Dynamic Distribution lists' for a server with over 1 million users in the first place - we don't know.

But hey lets throw some blame around anyway - she is a woman working in IT so she must be 'out of her depth' right!
/sarcasm

Secondly all the people hitting reply all - these messages typically only have 3 names against them, it is very easy to miss the fact that one of the names is a distribution list, the people replying would have no indication that the message would go to so many people. "Croydon PCT" does not sound like its going to go to everyone in England, Scotland and Wales.
NHS organisations do not normally have any distribution lists that go to more than 20 or so people for precisely this reason.

When you consider that 1.2 million staff are involved, if only around 80 hit reply all - that is .0066%
or looked at another way
99.9933% of staff did the right thing and just ignored/deleted the message.

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Apparently, this was a supplier's misconfiguration.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/14/nhs_blames_supplier_accenture_850k_user_reply_all_email/

 

I seem to have been spared this as my hospital doesn't use NHSmail. I tried to use it a few years ago because it had two major selling points: it could follow you around if you moved job within the NHS, and it was secure and could be used for confidential information. Sadly, both of these features were not very usable at the time: it could only follow you around, if your new employer used NHS mail (and not all did; some would countersign applications from employees who wanted to use it, but some would refuse to countersign the application presumably because they didn't want the support headache of having to manage two separate e-mail systems, one of which they didn't directly administer), and the messages were only secure when sent from NHSmail to NHSmail, and not to an employer specific e-mail address.

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