In one of the biggest breaches of the internet in the history of the United States, some computer hackers have accessed the names and email addresses from the email lists of major companies across the country. Companies including Target, Marriott, Walgreens, Citigroup, Hilton, JPMorgan, Capital One, Kroger, Best Buy, TiVO, HSN and The College Board had to notify their email subscribers that their email addresses had been leaked in the incident.
Epsilon, the online marketing company that maintains the email lists of around 50 major companies and sends out around 40 million emails per year was the victim of the crime of the data breach. Fortunately, the data breach did not include any identifying information like account numbers or passwords.
According to experts in internet security, the customers will only put themselves in jeopardy if they respond to emails camouflaged through the breach asking for their credit account numbers or other financial or identifying information. For example, in an email message to customers, Hilton said, “The files accessed did not include any customer financial information… the most likely impact, if any, would be receipt of unwanted e-mails”.
Before the breach happened, most Americans had never heard of Epsilon or the services they provided to their favorite retailers. In fact, many were shocked to find out that when they gave their email address to their favorite stores that they were actually handing it over to a third party that handles the massive emails the companies send out.