A major breach of security at a communications company has left millions of peopleâ€™s email addresses in the hands of an unknown hacker.
On Friday evening, Epsilon, the worldâ€™s largest permission-based email marketing company, reported a major breach of security where possibly millions of peopleâ€™s email addresses and their associated name had been stolen. Epsilon serves more than 2,500 clients mostly based in the United States, including Best Buy, TiVo, Walgreens, Capital One, JP Morgan and Citigroup â€“ and sends up to 40 billion emails annually on their behalf. So far they have listed 17 companies whose email databases have been affected and the list is expected to grow in the coming hours and days.
Epsilon said in a brief statement on its website that it had detected a breach where â€œclients' customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon's e-mail system." It added that other than the live email addresses and the associated name, no other personal information was stolen and that it was carrying out a full investigation into the matter. Some of the companies affected, such as TiVo, have been in touch with their customers to warn them of the possibility of receiving spam email at the addresses given to the company.
The problem now is that the hackers have a list of live email addresses given to specific companies with the associated names and will be able to tailor more specific and sophisticated phishing or spam emails to those accounts. It is also worrying that the email addresses are in the hands of hackers able to break into the database of a huge multi-national corporation which, one would hope, has pretty sophisticated security systems in place.