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article imageBug at BT forwards every sent email to one man's email account

By James Walker     Apr 20, 2016 in Technology
BT, the UK's largest broadband provider, has admitted a "testing" error resulted in every email sent across its network being forwarded to a single account for a brief period this week. A "Steve Webb" received every email sent by BT users.
The company confirmed to The Register that it inadvertently redirected all its customers' outgoing emails to the inbox of a single account for three hours on Tuesday. Customers may have seen errors when sending mail because the inbox on the receiving end became full and began to bounce new mail back to the sender.
The sent mail ended up at the email address "stevewebb2@btinternet.com." Although it may appear to be a random address, a Steve Webb works for Synchronoss Technologies, a firm which took over the running of BT's cloud network just last month.
Webb's LinkedIn profile explains he supports the email platforms of BT and O2, "looking after the mail gateway, the backend servers containing the mailboxes … and other servers in the platform." Unfortunately, something appeared to go wrong with the "looking after" yesterday.
BT hasn’t revealed the details of what went wrong but it appears as though someone made a blunder in a maintenance or testing routine. An incorrect email routing rule led to every sent message ending up in the "stevewebb2" inbox as well as that of its intended sender.
"A small number of customers reported an issue sending emails earlier. Sorry about this, it's fixed now," BT said to The Register. "The mailbox in the delivery failure notification was for internal/test use and appeared in error, sorry for any confusion that caused."
The issue has since been resolved and outgoing emails should now be sent as normal. The mistake is the second embarrassing outage for BT this year. Earlier in February, hundreds of thousands of broadband customers were left without a connection for hours as the company's Internet routing systems went offline.
Customers shouldn't need to worry about any BT employees having read their data. Although the email inbox carries a real person's name, it appears to be used for testing purposes only and has likely been cleaned out by now. The incident could have been worse if the mail ended up in the inbox of an actual customer, giving them the power to pry on the private affairs of hundreds of thousands of people.
Throughout the incident, BT Support was advising callers that the problem was occurring "system-wide" and affecting "quite a few customers." BT Internet told Business Insider that it believed the blunder occurred while applying a security patch designed to cut down on spam. Instead, it spammed users' inboxes with "mailbox full" warnings.
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