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BT Funnels All Customers' Sent Emails Into One Guy's Inbox ( 45

Shaun Nichols, reporting for The Register: The UK's biggest broadband provider BT redirected its customers' outgoing emails to a single account for three hours on Tuesday. The telco said the flooded inbox was an internal account it uses for test purposes and not a random unlucky subscriber. While BT did not provide details on the reason for the disruption, it appears to be the result of testing or maintenance gone awry. "A small number of customers reported an issue sending emails earlier. Sorry about this, it's fixed now," BT said in a statement to El Reg. "The mailbox in the delivery failure notification was for internal/test use and appeared in error, sorry for any confusion that caused." The emails were going to an account which belonged to someone named Steve Webb. The Register reports that Steve Webb works for one of BT's contractors. For Webb, I fear, Tuesday wasn't a productive day.
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BT Funnels All Customers' Sent Emails Into One Guy's Inbox

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  • This Steve, (Score:5, Funny)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @11:12AM (#51947487)
    This Steve, is what happens when you piss off a sysadmin.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hi, this is Steve. I read all this emails. Did you know that they are planning to outsource IT to India this year?

      • How old are your emails?

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Hi, this is Steve. I read all this emails.

        Given the standard of your grammar, I can only assume your position has already gone.

        How's the weather in Mumbai this time of year.

    • We normally just forward postmaster@ to abusive staff for an hour. Usually keeps them busy deleting emails (so the next few thousand can be delivered) for the rest of the day without impacting customers.

  • When the I LOVE YOU virus struck in the late 1990's, I was working for a French company in Silicon Valley and logged into Outlook that morning. I thought it was weird to get an email from the CEO with the subject line I LOVE YOU and wondered if all French people were gay. The emails kept coming after that. What killed the email server was the anti-virus scanner sending out email notifications that the virus got removed in addition to the "cleaned" I LOVE YOU emails that kept coming through. The system admin
    • Reminds me of a time back in the mid-1990s. I was helping run a server which hosted an email list. It had a 500 MB hard drive, which was wasn't huge but was fine for our purposes at the time. Someone tried to email an *uncompressed* photo (BMP instead of JPG) from a 2 MP digital camera (so about 6 MB in size) to the entire mailing list. The email server had dutifully copied the photo to the mailbox for each recipient whose mail was hosted on the server, until it ran out of disk space and crashed. It al
      • It crashed hard - I couldn't even login over the network.

        A coworker accidentally sent a 36MB core dump file to everyone in the company that crashed the server in 1997. Took the admin three days to manually delete ~300 copies.

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @11:31AM (#51947657)

    Sounds more like this "Contractor" Steve Webb might have been collecting intell for a bit, and BT just turned the spigot on full by accident?

    • by Pitawg ( 85077 )

      Secure Web Server for Email Inqisition was the intended recipient. Someone used "SWEB" instead of "SWEBSEI" for the account to which it was to redirect all email of users. That early enter key blew their "secret".

  • Failing fast (Score:2, Informative)

    by mileshigh ( 963980 )

    Electricity, my car's brakes, email: failure NOT OK. Their dependability is what makes them useful.

    Nimble; agile. failing fast. It's a valuable idea, but it's not for every organization. If you're developing something new, failure is probably OK as long as you can pick up the pieces.

    If you're on the operational side of making something work day in and day out, it it NOT OK. Most outfits fall into that category.

    Seems like I'm hearing more & more of my customers adopting the"fail fast, fail often" mantra.

  • Is "El Reg" the Spanish arm of "The Register"?
  • What I don't get is BT sends me emails all the time about one of their customers. They apparently run a business and bought a business line and ADSL service, and I get notifications when it's in for service, invoices, etc.

    What I don't get is how I can stop it - I tried the links and they don't work, and I even tried logging into the guy's BT account, but it always claims the email is invalid (I'm sitting on all the guy's details - phone numbers, addresses, etc).

    The other thing I don't get is how these kind

  • Could have been worse -- could have been a distribution list Could have been even worse -- could have been a distribution list with even a single BT email address on it. Keep 'em coming. (What are the chances he's a contractor working on BT's email system)?
  • ... For Webb, I fear, Tuesday wasn't a productive day. ...

    Or, depending upon which set of conspiracy theories you subscribe to, perhaps today was a very productive day for Mr. Webb...

  • by tom229 ( 1640685 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @12:57PM (#51948537)
    I'm not really aware of the postfix configuration parameter 'forward_all_mail_to'. Typically, a mail transfer agent program will look up a recipient in a user table, and if there's no match, will bounce the message. How are they configured that Steve can become the default recipient for all mail... by accident? Suspicious to say the least.
    • by phorm ( 591458 )

      I've used something like this before. When you have a QA system, you don't want to accidentally send out emails that people might confuse with a production alert etc (but you still need to test the alert emails, etc). You *could* change configs to have special accounts for non-prod systems - assuming you can track down all the config entries - but what you can also do is rejig the mailserver config so that the destination address is rewritten and goes to a special mailserver/inbox for testing systems.


  • For you, the day that your emails were all redirected was the most memorable day of your life. But for Webb? For Webb, it was a Tuesday.
  • They did not send it to any one's email. They simply sent it to the debug mail box.
  • They've employed Marco Marsala. It's how he does a backup.

  • Try running a monitoring system that hangs and considers all devices/services/paths down...

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.