Dec 13 2012

Harrow Council’s Email Buggered Again

Many residents will have emailed their councillor, and never received a reply, which they probably put down to them being too lazy to answer. Yes, we’ve made the same mistake ourselves, when it’s taken countless emails chasing up issues. However, we might all have been wrong!

It turns out today that Harrow Council managed to get itself onto a couple of global email blacklists. It’s all a bit technical, so we’ll dumb it down in case anybody that’s left in Harrow Council’s IT group are reading, but if a computer on the internet is found to be sending out spam (you know the sort of thing… adverts for viagra, important emails purporting to be from your bank, letters from lonely – and lovely – Russian ladies, etc), then that computer can be blacklisted. Other computers which then receive an email from a blacklisted sender can then automatically dump it on the basis that it’s spam.

This happens – it’s usually because one of the clowns in an IT department sets things up wrongly, and allows, in error, a whole load of email to get through the unprotected system – and it’s fairly easy to put right, once you’ve found and fixed the problem. However, this does raise other concerns: if the Council allows anyone, anywhere on the planet, to send adverts for gentlemen’s medication through it’s email system, just how safe is your other data that they hold?

Have a think about it: your name, address, bank details, date of birth, NI numbers are all held somewhere. How about criminal records details, if you’ve declared those? Income? How about case notes of abuse victims? How about witness statements? Maybe you’ve grassed up a benefit fraudster and your name and address and everything you’d said was stored somewhere deep in the bowels of Harrow’s IT systems?

We’d like to think that Harrow is confident that it’s own IT is secure, and that such security hasn’t been breached, but you’ve got to agree, if they can get this wrong, surely they can get that wrong…

Updated 14.12.2012: The problem with the Council’s email system being on that global backlist now seems to have been fixed. 

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