Monday, July 12, 2004

How do I add a disclaimer to outgoing messages?

How do I add or append a disclaimer to outgoing messages? This is probably one of the most common questions I see in the newsgroups. For some reason, companies have decided their intellectual property is safe and they are safe from lawsuits if they add a handy disclaimer to the bottom of every outbound message. They usually read something like this:

"The company is not responsible for the content of this message, it does not reflect company policy, and if you received this in error, then destroy it immediately." Or something a little less flip.

Well, it can be done. The best way is to use a third party solution such as GFI Mail Essentials or other third party SMTP system that appends the dislaimer to the message. You can write your own event sinks for Windows 2000 / 2003 SMTP service that will do this, though, but you may be getting yourself in to more than you bargained for if you are not an experienced programmer.

Microsoft has published a couple of KB articles on this topic and includes some sample code. The first article is KB 317680: How to add a disclaimer to outgoing SMTP messages in Visual Basic script. This article includes some VBScript code, but that is not a particularly 'high performance' solution. KB article 3417327: How to add a disclaimer to outgoing SMTP messages in Visual Basic includes Visual Basic code.

There are lots of third party solutions you can find at

However, take note, that if your organization is using or planning to use S/MIME digital signatures to verify authenticity of a message and non-repudiation, any thing that alters the message AFTER the user clicks Send will break the digital signature. I use S/MIME digital signatures for all of my official e-mail I send to customers and vendors. If this is the case, then you should have users append the disclaimers from within Outlook as part of a standard message signature.

Keywords: Message signature append disclaimer Outlook Exchange SMTP third party Visual Basic VBScript


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