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E-mail blunders: Top 10 dumbest moments of 2008

With Halloween near, here are the scariest blunders, attacks and mishaps that have caused many a sleepless night

By CIO staff
October 28, 2008 12:00 PM ET

CIO - What do Halloween and a sent e-mail have in common? Both can be equally frightening, according to Proofpoint, a provider of unified e-mail security, archiving and data loss prevention solutions.

With Halloween lurking around the corner, the company has identified some of the scariest e-mail snafus of 2008.

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

In no particular order, here are this year's top e-mail mishaps:

1. Phishing fiasco In September, it was reported that cybercriminals 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.

2. Preying on Palin's e-mail 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 e-mail account, but concerns have been raised about Palin using her personal e-mail for business issues. 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 e-mail spread in September claimed to have a link to a sex video of Obama, but instead included spyware to steal sensitive data from the victim's computer. 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 e-mail or its attachments.

4. E-mails: Dead and buried Oracle Corp. failed to unearth CEO Larry Ellison's e-mails that were sought as evidence in a class-action lawsuit. According to U.S. 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.

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

6. Unhealthy news anchor obsession A former news anchor, smitten by his female co-anchor, was charged with hacking into her e-mail 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 columnist.

This story is reprinted from, an online resource for information executives. Story Copyright CXO Media Inc., 2012. All rights reserved.
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