Have you ever BCCed someone on an email so that you can secretly keep them in the loop without the other recipients knowing? Here’s why it is a dangerous practice and what you should do instead.
What is BCC (for those who haven’t used it before)
When you send out an email you can add recipients email addresses to the To, CC or BCC fields. CC stands for carbon copy and is a term that comes from when we used typewriters and used carbon paper to make copies of letters to send to extra people.
BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy.
Normally when you send an email, recipients can see who else received the email because they can see the To and CC fields. But they cannot see the BCC field which means that if you BCC someone on an email, the other people who received the same email will not know.
Why might you use BCC?
- To send a copy of the email to yourself so that you get it in your Inbox as an action item.
- To send a copy to your Gmail account etc. for archiving.
- To secretly inform someone about an email conversation
What is the danger of using BCC?
If you used BCC to keep a recipient hidden from others, imagine what would happen if the hidden recipient did a reply-to-all!
Suddenly the other recipients would be aware that you had been using BCC and depending on the nature of the email conversation, this may be viewed as dishonest or sneaky.
What you can do instead of using BCC
Instead of using BCC, I recommend that you send the email out to the main recipients only using the To and CC fields. Then FORWARD the sent email to anyone else who you need to inform.
Now even if the secret recipient does a Reply-to-All, it only comes back to you.
How to avoid accidental Reply-to-Alls yourself
If you or others in your organization are dealing with confidential information that you are BCCed on, you might want to also look at Send Guard for Outlook. to avoid doing an accident Reply-to-all yourself!
Send Guard has special filters that check emails as you respond to them and as they are sent out.
A special prompt will warn you and ask for confirmation if you reply to an email on which you have been BCCed.
This can avoid the accidental disclosure to other recipients that we referred to earlier.
How do you ensure confidential information is not accidently disclosed?
Let us know by leaving a comment below.