IT Contractor's Bonehead Reply All Email Spawns 186 Million Messages Brings Down UK NHS Systems

We've no doubt all been there: we click the "Send" button on an email, and before we realize what just happened, it's too late. That email and its potential embarrassment is out of your hands. While it's one thing to accidentally send an email too early, or reply all when you shouldn't have, it's an entirely different story when you accidentally email up to 1.2 million people at once. Oh - and if that's not bad enough, imagine taking down an entire email system as a result!

reply all

That's just what happened to the National Health Service in the UK, as an IT contractor sent a test email to the agency's 1.2 million employees - something that didn't go unnoticed. If you've ever been involved in an email thread where someone accidentally left every email address exposed, you probably know what happened next: people began replying to the message. That resulted in all of these employees receiving numerous emails, with the total number of emails created numbering 186 million.

Interestingly, despite NHS having 1.2 million employees, it claims only 840,000 email addresses were affected. So those 360,000 other folks should consider themselves lucky. Naturally, as the result of the incredible amount of emails being sent all at once, the NHS email system ultimately crashed - something some employees took to Twitter to rant about.

All we can do is imagine what's going through this IT contractor's head. This is a huge screw-up, but one that simply shouldn't even have been possible. Still, if you ever find yourself on the wrong end of a mistake like this in the future, this story would be a great one to bring up to soften the blow. You can't possibly do worse than spamming up to 1.2 million people at once, right?