Web

Email fail: Blunder sees leading HIV clinic leak details of 780 patients

nhs email gaffe button
Mtkang / Shutterstock
Ever put a bunch of names in the Cc field of an email when they were supposed to go in the Bcc field?

Chances are the worst you got were a few curt emails from disgruntled recipients who didn’t want their details displayed to one and all. For some poor worker at one of the U.K.’s leading sexual health clinics, however, the same mistake has made a lot of people extremely upset and could land the clinic with a hefty fine.

Here’s what happened: Each month, the Dean Street Clinic in central London sends out a newsletter to around 780 of its patients. The message provides the latest information on things like support services and available treatments.

You know what’s coming. Instead of copying and pasting the email addresses into the Bcc field to keep them hidden from the recipients, they were pasted instead into the Cc field. This meant everyone who received the email could see the full name and email address of everyone else on the list.

According to the BBC, data breaches like this could result in a fine of up to £500,000 ($765,000).

“I couldn’t breathe”

One man with HIV who’s been a patient at the clinic since 2010 told the BBC he “felt sick” when he realized what’d happened.

“I first saw the email at work but ignored it as I was busy, I then looked at it on the way home from work. I couldn’t breathe.”

He added, “I’m concerned who will get this information. If it ends up in the hands of the wrong people, such as hate groups, it could be dynamite.”

Soon after the health center realized the serious confidentiality breach, it set up a helpline and sent out an email of apology to those affected. It called the incident “completely unacceptable” and urged the recipients to delete the email “immediately.”

The apology continued, “We are urgently investigating how this has happened and I promise you that we will take steps to ensure it never happens again.”

The clinic insisted that “not everyone” on the list was HIV positive, though initial media reports appeared to suggest otherwise. The confusion prompted a number of concerned recipients to contact the clinic for clarification regarding their true status.

Defending the health center, patient Rob Sherrard told the Guardian it would be “tragic” if the incident took away from “all the amazing work” that the clinic does.

He added, “It’s human error and could have happened to anyone. I hope the individual responsible will be forgiven.”

Computing

Firefox 66 is here and it will soon block irritating autoplay videos

Do web advertisements have you frustrated? Mozilla is here to help. The latest version of the browser will soon block autoplaying videos by default and will also help make web page scrolling smoother.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks for the best portable chargers.
Gaming

Last gen had some hits! Take a look at the best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.
Business

Patreon is having another go at changing the way it charges creators

Patreon messed up pretty badly the last time it tried to change its payment system. Now it's having another go, though this time the changes mainly affect future sign-ups rather than its current community of creators.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 
Web

How much!? British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation

Website errors sometimes cause flight prices to display at way below the correct price. But British Airways recently experienced the opposite issue when it tried to charge a family more than $4 million for a vacation in Mexico.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.