The Long List Of Companies Affected By Epsilon Data Breach May Make It The Biggest Data Breach In US History

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (PressExposure) April 17, 2011 -- A recent data breach could make it the biggest of its kind in U.S. history. JP Morgan Chase and the Kroger supermarket chain warns customers that their names and e-mail addresses may have fallen into the wrong hands after someone broke into computer systems at e-mail marketing giant Epsilon.

Epsilon, a leading marketing services firm, with a broad array of data- driven, multichannel marketing solutions whose customers also include Visa, Kraft, Citibank and Marriott International, acknowledged the incident in a brief statement Friday. "On March 30th, an incident was detected where a subset of Epsilon clients' customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon's email system," Epsilon said. "The information that was obtained was limited to email addresses and/or customer names only."

Epsilon said it doesn't believe any other personal information was compromised, but it is now working with authorities on an investigation, a company spokeswoman said. And, now, Congress is demanding more information from Epsilon about exactly what information was stolen.

The chairman of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law Sen. Al Franken told Politico that Americans should know more about who owns their information. Franken told Politico in a statement "Most of the people affected by the Epsilon breach had never heard of that company before this week. We need to give Americans more awareness about who has their information and greater ability to protect it."

Epsilon is unclear how serious the issue is. In a letter to customers, Kroger said customer names and e-mail addresses were stolen. "As a result, it is possible you may receive some spam email messages," Kroger said. "We apologize for any inconvenience. Kroger wants to remind you not to open emails from senders you do not know. Also, Kroger would never ask you to email personal information such as credit card numbers or social security numbers. If you receive such a request, it did not come from Kroger and should be deleted," the letter states.

Epsilon sent 6.5 billion e-mail marketing messages in 2009, but the company also runs loyalty programs for Citi and Chase credit card users, and the kind of information stored in its databases could be extremely valuable to criminals looking to steal banking information in phishing attacks.

Epsilon told Chase that none of its customers' financial information was compromised, the bank said Friday in a press release.

A data breach is a security incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so." Data breaches may involve financial information such as credit card or bank details, personal health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets of corporations or intellectual property. According to the nonprofit consumer organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a total of 227,052,199 individual records containing sensitive personal information were involved in security breaches in the United States between January 2005 and May 2008, excluding incidents where sensitive data was apparently not actually exposed.

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Press Release Submitted On: April 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm
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