E-mail blunder flags need for good practice

It was red faces all round in Cisco’s HR department last week
when confidential staff appraisal information was accidentally sent to hundreds
of staff in an e-mail.

The incident happened when a spreadsheet containing appraisal rankings was
e-mailed to around 300 marketing staff.

A Cisco source said the employee had meant to send the e-mail to a senior
executive. Employees were ranked in the spreadsheet and junior staff were able
to access their bosses’ appraisals.

One member of staff said: "Everyone in my section was giggling about it
– my boss’s boss got one of the worst ratings out of everyone."

The company launched an immediate damage-limitation exercise, sending out an
e-mail explaining that the rankings were still being compiled.

A Cisco spokeswoman said the company would be re-assessing its policy.
"The employee who sent the e-mail did so in an unauthorised fashion. This
is against our written policy which says such data should not be distributed by
e-mail," she said.

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