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Spam and Security Tips

Are out-of-the office messages a security hazard?

Written by Serdar Yegulalp

Posted on


Automatically generated out-of-office messages, like the kind created by Microsoft Outlook, have come under scrutiny as a possible security hazard.

It may seem absurd at first, but there are a number of fairly legitimate reasons why out-of-office messages might pose a hazard. (These may vary in validity depending on conditions at your workplace.)

  1. Fuel for dictionary attacks: If a spammer tries to use dictionary attacks (randomly-generated e-mail names) on an organization, an out-of-office reply is proof that a given address is good, and a spammer could add that to a list of known-valid addresses for future spamming runs.


  2. Awareness of physical absence: If you run a small business or home office, this tips someone off to the possibility that you may not be physically there. This may sound paranoid, but it's entirely possible that if someone wanted to break into your office (or even your home), they could use this as evidence that you aren't around and take advantage of that.

    Larger businesses might not need to be as concerned about this particular issue unless their existing security isn't up to snuff. That said, I personally know of at least one incident where someone was able to gain access to a person's office by posing as a spouse, thanks to a too-friendly receptionist. The incident was benign, but someone with less than the best of intentions could also have taken advantage of this situation.


  3. Social engineering attacks: Out-of-office messages with too much detail can give an outsider that much more leverage to perform "social engineering," -- i.e., penetrate the security of an organization by working through people and exploiting their gullibility. For instance, out-of-office messages with phone numbers could potentially be exploited through social engineering methods.


  4. Message-looping issues: Generally, a properly-managed e-mail system should not have message-looping issues, since Microsoft Outlook Out of Office is set to fire only once per sender. However, your Exchange server's interactions with other e-mail systems, such as some fax clients, can cause mail loops. This is a rare occurrence, but it's been known to happen.

Some organizations now administratively prohibit the use of out-of-office auto-replies for the above reasons. This can be done a number of ways; the most common and easiest is usually to administratively disable auto-reply and auto-forward to the Internet (via the Internet Mail Connector). The default setting for auto-reply is disabled.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.


Spam Protection

Spam: Spam is unsolicited e-mail on the Internet. From the sender's point-of-view, it's a form of bulk mail, often to a list called from subscribers to a Usenet discussion group or obtained by companies that specialize in creating e-mail distribution lists. To the receiver, it usually seems like junk e-mail. In general, it's not considered good netiquette to send spam. It's generally equivalent to unsolicited phone marketing calls except that the user pays for part of the message since everyone shares the cost of maintaining the Internet.


Accessing E-Mail Remotely

To access your e-mail from a remote location you can click "Web-Mail" from the bottom of any page on the MFWI website. You will then get a page like this: 

You will then be asked for User name and Password. This is the username and password that you use to access the MFWI network.



Driver Safety Check List

1 - Study Basic Loss Prevention.
2 - View the training video at (est. 40 min.) if you need to pause the video right click and select play/pause.
3 - Complete information experience statement and acknowledgement statement and return to personnel department within 30 days. Failure to complete and return forms will result in loss of driving 15 passenger vans.
4 - Biennial renewal required.





Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute is accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation for the period August 2014 through August 2024 and agrees to uphold the CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions.  CEA is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting agency for English language programs and institutions in the U.S. For further information about this accreditation, please contact CEA, 801 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 402A, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703.519.2070,



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