University College London’s (UCL) email database suffered a major breach of privacy on Wednesday evening after a spam email was sent to all 29,000 students. The email led to a thread that included more than 3,000 responses.

The email violation claimed to be from UCL Provost Michael Arthur and arrived at 10.47pm. The incident was quickly dubbed #Bellogate because the email featured the simple subject line “bello.”

The spoof or hacked email was sent from [email protected] and quickly led to a lot of similar comments that read, “STOP SPAMMING PEOPLE!!!!!!!”

As an increasing number of people hit “reply all” students quickly found themselves receiving thousands of unwanted emails from fellow students.

Soon students found themselves being subscribed to porn and Sarah Palin channels without their consent.

The #Bellogate scandal led to a parody Twitter account being setup @UCLBello. That account was busily sending screenshots of fake but funny emails.

By early Thursday morning the #Bellogate term was trending in the UK and on Friday morning the term made its way to US social media accounts.

UCL officials were late to close down the email list, but after learning of the incident they offered a quick apology to students: “I am sorry to inform you that overnight, multiple emails (perhaps up to 1,000) have been received by students on an all-student email list.”

The actual number of emails received was in the thousands, but let’s be honest, after the first 1,000 messages students probably stopped counting.

The #Bellogate email spoof once again highlights the need for institutions to provide better security standards for their users. Two-factor authentication, strong password suggestions, and strong anti-virus software should always be used, and networks should be updated on a regular basis to avoid any type of security vulnerability.