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Monday January 15th 2018 | 08:01

How can law firms prevent emails being sent to the wrong people?

We've all had that sinking feeling. The one that comes when you know you've made a mistake. In particular, when you've made a mistake sending an email and it's gone to the wrong person. 

It's a really simple concept and, whether we'd like to admit it or not, a really common problem. In fact, research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Egress found that more than one in three workers (35%) admitted to sending an email to the wrong person, while nearly half (46%) have received an email clearly intended for someone else. Add to this the fact that 25% of those polled admitted to having intentionally removed sensitive information from their place of work (sharing it with family and friends, and future employers) and 50% would delete emails to hide the evidence of a mis-send, and those responsible for information security have a very complex problem on their hands. 

This is a particular challenge for organisations that routinely deal with highly sensitive information, especially in a fast-paced environment, like at a law firm. The data shows that rushing caused 68% of email errors, while autofill was blamed in 46% cases (in some instances, rushing led to reliance on autofill, which led to the email going to the wrong person - you can see how this cycle can continue). Typically, legal professionals rely on IT to help them get their jobs done - it's not the focus of their work. So it needs to work for them almost intuitively because, for example, they might not think to check the recipients of their email carefully; they're just looking to send information efficiently so they can progress a case. 

However, sending information to the wrong person can have a major repercussions. We're not just talking GDPR here (although fines of up to 4% annual turnover or €20m are certainly eye opening) - the impacts of a data breach can reach much further, for example damaging business reputation so new or even existing clients choose to take their business elsewhere. We're also increasingly seeing more litigation happening as a result of data breaches, where the data subjects involved sue the organisation for damages, including for potential fraud and stress.

Getting emails to the right people is a relatively simple concept - and it's one that Egress is tackling using machine learning and artificial intelligence. We're using technology to analyse data sharing patterns to alert users to situations where they've added an incorrect recipient to an email or mistyped an email address. Not only will this help to ensure sensitive information isn't sent to unauthorised recipients but it can also work to improve productivity by ensuring every email gets to the right person, every time. You can find out more about this here.

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