Security Alert! Epsilon: Biggest Data Breach Ever?

Posted by Marissa Anema Thursday, April 07, 2011 12:18:00 PM

Ever hear of the Heartland Data Breach case that affected numerous financial institutions across the country including credit unions? Well, Epsilon, an online marketing unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp., announced on April 1st that an outside intrusion had hacked into some of its customer files that may eclipse the Heartland breach.

The list of banking institutions and retailers affected by the Epsilon e-mail breach continues to grow. So far, Citi Bank, Chase, U.S. Bank, Capitol One, Barclays Bank of Delaware, Verizon, Walgreens, Visa, Kroger, Marriott International, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Brookstone, New York & Co., TiVo, HSN, and L.L. Bean are among the confirmed entities to be hit by what some observers say could be one of the biggest data breaches to date.

Epsilon sends e-mail campaigns and offers to consumers who register for a company's Web site or who give their e-mail addresses while shopping. Epsilon sends more than 40 billion e-mails annually and also runs loyalty programs for Citi and Chase credit card users. Epsilon's databases house consumer information cybercriminals could use for targeted 'phishing', better known as 'spear phishing' attacks.

In a brief statement, Epsilon says it detected a breach on March 30th during which "clients' customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon's e-mail system." Subsequently, Chase and U.S. Bank both issued statements last week telling customers they should be wary of 'phishy' e-mails.


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