Burglars harvest auto-reply emails

Office workers are being been warned to be careful when writing “away from office” auto reply email messages, because they may unwittingly be telling burglars when to strike their homes.

According to industry group The Corporate IT Forum (TIF), criminals are buying lists of spam email addresses and sending mass mailings with the intention of gaining “away from office” replies with details of holiday absences.

Using online directories such as www.192.com or www.bt.com, would-be burglars can cross-reference the information contained within the automatic email replies, such as name, telephone number and business address, to find out the personal details and even the home address of the sender.

Chief executive of TIF, David Roberts comments: "You wouldn't go on holiday with a note pinned to your door saying who you were, how long you were away for and when you were coming back so why would you put this in an email?”

TIF’s Information Security Group recommends that workers keep messages as bland as possible, and never reveal that that they are away on holiday, out of the country or away from the office between certain dates.

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