Chief information security officer shares tips for email best practices

With many offices and organizations on campus sending emails to students, staff and faculty for the new school year, Chief Information Security Officer Marc Scarborough shared the following tips for email best practices in a letter to the Rice community Aug. 31.

  • image of email to: and cc: linesThe most important tip is to pay attention to whether you’re sharing sensitive data and to take special precautions to keep that data secure. If you are unsure about whether information is sensitive or how to secure it, contact IT Security for guidance before sharing (see contact info at end).
  • Be selective about when you choose the “reply all” option. Unless it’s necessary to keep others in the loop or to document group decisions, replying to all can subject a number of people to unnecessary emails.
  •  If you’re emailing a large group of people, pay special attention to whether the recipients’ email addresses will appear on the “to” line, the “cc” line or the “bcc” line. If the information is sensitive, list the recipients on the blind carbon copy (bcc) line so that they cannot see the addresses of all the others who received the email.
  •  If you’re using a template or other standard form to send information to a large mailing list, double-check the settings to ensure that the format options that are checked won’t inadvertently display all of the email addresses on the list. If you aren’t sure what a particular option does on a site like OWL-Space or, for example, contact Rice’s IT help desk at or 713-348-4357 before using the tool.
  • If you mistakenly send an email that contained information that should have been kept private, contact the IT Security Office as soon as possible at or 713-348-5735.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.