Software provider GoProposal has developed an extension for Google Chrome that warns users when they are about to send an email to recipients with different email domains.
The "Hold your Horses" feature was inspired by a recent issue experienced by a team member at the Manchester-based accountancy firm MAP: “We had a problem a few weeks ago in our accountancy firm where a member of our team accidentally sent a client an email and cc'd another client in too,” explained James Ashford, director of MAP and GoProposal’s founder in a recent LinkedIn post.
The add-on works with the Gmail and Outlook email services in Chrome. When enabled, the extension shows a warning message if the user attempts to send a message to recipients with different email domains.
Users can also add email domains – such as their own one or that of partners who are regularly cc'd into emails – to an exclusion list.
Although it was originally created with accountancy firms in mind, the Chrome add-on is available for free on Google’s webstore for all Gmail and Outlook’s users.
When it comes to potential data breaches in accounting firms, sharing sensitive information with the wrong people by mistake is one of the most widespread causes of concern amongst practitioners.
In an Any Answers post, AccountingWEB member Tickers explained how sending emails to the wrong client is becoming a regular issue in their practice: “This happens on a semi regular basis in our office, not a lot but seems to be happening more often in recent times.
“I don't know if it's lack of concentration, carelessness or clients with similar first names, for example staff will send an email to ‘Carlos’ but it's the wrong Carlos.”
In the answers to the post, other AccountingWEB readers shared an array of creative solutions to prevent the problem, including unchecking the auto-complete option for email addresses, or setting a delay, as suggested by Duggimon: “Most email systems introduce a delay in sending to give you time to fix emails after you press send. This would let you recall and fix emails that have gone out with the wrong address.”
“For clients with similar or indeed identical names I add (business name) after their surname, under the 'display name' functionality to help identify which one is which,” said AccountingWEB member ireallyshouldknowthisbut.
Human factor in data breaches
The initial preoccupation caused by the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has subsided since its introduction in May 2018. However, despite the increased attention to good practice and the adoption of tools such as safe cloud storage and email encryption, data breaches are still common in the post-GDPR era.