April 03, 2011 05:00 PM EDT
Millions of email accounts have been hacked and are now subject to increased spam attacks and phishing for personal information. A data breach at Epsilon, one of the largest email marketing firms, exposed users email addresses and their names. As of this time, no social security numbers or financial information have been exposed.
Epsilon manages email marketing campaigns for large companies. Customers at TiVo, The College Board, Ritz-Carlton, the Home Shopping Network, JPMorgan Chase, Brookstone, Walgreens, Capital One, Kroger, McKinsey & Company and US Bank have been alerted to their compromised information. Emails sent to customers provided assurances that no financial information was compromised.
The Epsilon email hacking was supossedly accomplished by one rogue individual who amassed millions of email address and names during the attack. This list of information may ultimately be sold to email marketing groups for mass spam campaigns.
A more serious threat, a phishing campaign, may also be the intended use of these massive customer lists. Phishing attempts try to obtain personal information such as social security numbers or credit card information from customers for identity theft purposes. Targeted emails that address customers by name are usually more effective for these types of crimes. Impacted customers who receive unusual emails should be wary of providing any information through an email link.
Epsilon states they have launched a full-scale investigation of the incident. This email hacking shows how vulnerable information can be in a digital world and how vigilant companies must be against cyber crimes.