The year was 2010. It was a gray morning and the winds howled and swirled around the otherwise ordinary office building as she logged into the email system, completely unaware of what was about to happen…
She had to send a company update to 10,000-odd customers, partners, investors, and employees. As she proofread and tested the formatting, the CEO came up to her.
“Can you make sure Tom, Harry, and I get a copy of this email?”
She looked around the email system. Should she add them to the database? No, then they’ll get every other marketing email. Maybe she should just forward the email to them after it’s sent? No, then the formatting will be wrong. Oh, look! The email system has a BCC function. Perfect.
After lunch the mood in the office had improved. Everyone joked and laughed. The sun was shining, jack-o-lanterns were smiling, and leaves were gently wafting from tall trees. The noises of a normal day filled the hallways.
No one knew that something lurked in the shadows. And it was right on schedule.
Slowly, office by office, the building fell silent.
Then someone called out, “Sue, is your email down?”
“Yeah, is yours?”
“It just stopped.”
“Nothing’s coming in or going out at all.”
She looked at the clock. It was 2:01 p.m. A chill slowly creeped down her spine.
She tip-toed to Harry’s office and dared to look around the door. He was frowning at his computer, confusion giving way to shock. He caught her eye and started to rise, slowly, out of his seat.
“Can you… come take a look at this?” He pointed at the computer with a shaky hand.
She gulped. Her feet moved her forward against her control. When she reached the computer screen, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
One by one, emails were popping into his inbox. The unread icon was ticking up, up, up: 1113. 3597. 5643. They seemed to get faster before her eyes. She steadied herself on the desk. She leaned in for a closer look.
The subject line almost screamed at her: “Company Updates.”
She ran all the way back to her desk, scrambling for the phone before she even sat down. “But, what? What is this?” Harry called after her, his voice fading into fear as the emails kept coming.
‘Please pick up, please pick up,’ she thought.
“Hello IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?”
“JIM TURN OFF THE EMAIL,” she scream-whispered into her handset.
“Turn off the email! For everyone! Can you do that?”
“IT’S THE EMAILS, JIM! IT’S THE EMAILS!”
“What are you even? Fine, hold on.” Jim gasped as he accessed the email server. “Is someone? Wait, did you? Did you DDOS us?”
“I didn’t know. The BCC. I didn’t know.” She looked at the clock. 2:06 p.m. The email should be finished sending soon. “How long would it take 10,000 emails to be received by, um, 3 inboxes?”
“You sent 10,000 emails to 3 inboxes? Separately? Not, like, a copy of an email to 3 inboxes?”
She squeaked out a quiet “Yes. To the executives. Um, CEO, CFO, COO. I’m sor–”
She sank into her chair, murmuring “The emails got Jim too.” She stared at the computer for a long time, willing the emails to go back where they came from, knowing they wouldn’t… they were out… they were everywhere.
“Well,” Harry cleared his throat. She jumped. “Jim says there’s a problem with the email systems and they’re shutting everything down for the rest of the afternoon, so I say we close up early. I’m going to play a round. Tom is headed home to dress his kids for trick-or-treating. I told everyone else to finish up whatever they’re working on and head out. Happy Halloween!” He waved as he walked out the door.
She stared after him.
A new email pinged on her computer. She screamed.