Have you ever sent an email that embarrassingly went to the wrong person? 

Then you'll have some inkling of how the Ed Finn, editor of US business newspaper Barron's, felt after attempting to respond by email to three people after buyouts at The Wall Street Journal were announced last Friday (both owned by Dow Jones), and accidentally sent a mass email informing his own employees of imminent layoffs.

The email mentioned the WSJ buyouts saying that parent Dow Jones was offering 1.5x the standard buyout package, before going on to say, “Are we planning to go to the employees we are laying off at Barron's next week and offer them 1x the standard package? That could create some problems. Please advise.”

Encryption and restricted access to sensitive data are among solutions to such problems suggested by the industry.

In an email to SCMagazineUK.com, Tony Pepper, CEO, Egress Software Technologies comments: “Another ‘reply all' error, and another reminder that sensitive information is at its most vulnerable when being shared amongst different people. ‘Reply all' and autofill are great time-savers for those that spend much of their day batting emails back and forth – having to enter each recipient manually can impact productivity. Yet it is also the source of many mistakes; even if we don't want admit to having that sinking feeling when you hit send and realise it's the wrong recipient, we'll all admit to receiving an ‘Outlook recall' message.

“Unfortunately in this case the consequences have been quite dire for all involved. Yet businesses have to accept that mistakes like these happen: humans are fallible, it's a fact of life. By accepting this, and adopting technologies that can provide a safety net for users – for example, by offering the ability to encrypt, so that unintended users cannot access sensitive data; or having the ability to revoke access if data is sent in error; or refusing to send sensitive content to certain addresses and domains – then we can help to prevent these type of upsetting errors in the future.”