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Posted by Dave Frankland on April 4, 2011
On April 1, 2011, Epsilon announced that it had detected an unauthorized entry into its email system, and that, as a result, a subset of its email clients’ customer data was exposed to an external party. The company indicates that the information was limited to email addresses and/or customer names only. The company is also limited in the information that it can share due to an ongoing investigation.
Epsilon plays in the “permission email” game — it is a legitimate player and certainly not a spammer. It has big and significant email customers — this weekend, I received emails from Disney, Best Buy, and Brookstone, and I’ve read about other notifications from Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, and Kroger. On the one hand, some of the press headlines would lead to a big shoulder shrug — the fact that a spammer might now have my name as well as my email address really doesn’t raise that much concern for me.
But I like to think I’m relatively tech savvy. What about others that might receive an email — addressed correctly apparently from a marketer that they trust that asks for more information or asks for them to take specific action? The emails that I’ve seen from the companies above have been well written and designed to offset some of that concern.
My bigger question is the long-term impact for marketers and service providers. Specifically:
This breach should be a wakeup call for the industry. MSPs and ESPs should recognize that they’ve dodged a bullet. Email addresses and names are probably the least concerning things that external, unauthorized parties could have accessed from a company such as Epsilon. This could have been much, much worse. Even if Epsilon isn’t your provider, engage your security and risk colleagues, and relentlessly dig into what your providers are doing to ensure the safety of your data — and what they are doing to make sure their answer remains current.
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