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Tips to avoid sending personal data to the wrong people

09 Nov 2022

Colleagues reminded to be careful when sending emails containing personal data, in particular special category data

Colleagues are reminded to be careful when sending emails containing personal data, in particular special category data.

This follows the launch of our refreshed training course on Data Protection and Cyber Security, which all staff are required to complete.

Special category data refers to a person's race, ethnic origin, politics, religion, trade union membership, genetics, biometrics (if used for ID purposes), health, sex life or sexual orientation. It's more sensitive, so needs more protection.

The majority of the personal data incidents at the University involve staff accidently sending information to the wrong people.

Here are some simple steps to help prevent things going wrong:

  • Double check the addresses before hitting send and look closely at the Global Address List on Outlook for similar names.
  • Use the Bcc field when you’re sending information to groups of people (particularly external individuals) that do not need to know each other’s email addresses. Remember, their email address is personal data.
  • Send links to documents in Sharepoint or OneDrive so that you can manage access to the document rather than sending attachments in emails. If you do have to send an attachment, open it before you send the email to ensure it’s the correct document.
  • Beware of the autocomplete function in Outlook. If you often send a lot of sensitive data you can disable autocomplete in Outlook by clicking on File > Options >Mail, scroll down to ‘Send messages’ and untick the box ‘Use Auto-Complete List to suggest names when typing in the To, Cc, and Bcc lines’.
  • Don’t forget to scroll down an email if you’re forwarding information, to help prevent sending excessive personal data inadvertently.
  • Check that any records management systems or distribution lists you use have the most up to date personal data or contact information in them.

More information