Major email service provider suffers data breach

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Apr 5, 2011

Financial institutions among affected customers.

Email service provider Epsilon, which carries out email marketing for many major companies, has admitted it has fallen victim to a targeted attack where hackers obtained some customer data.

In a press release on its website, the Dallas, TX, based company plays down the attack, saying it affected approximately 2% of its clients and that the information obtained was 'limited to email addresses and/or customer names only'. However, as many of the affected customers have informed their subscribers, a growing list of companies is known to have had their customer lists stolen.

Among the victims are Hilton Honors, Walgreens and Disney Destinations, but also financial organisations such as JPMorgan Chase and Citi. Even if the hackers only obtained the email addresses and names of these companies' customers, it would be enough for crooks to send personalised phishing emails, which appear more credible and have a significantly higher success rate than non-personalised ones. Should the hackers have obtained even more information, such as customer and account numbers, the consequences for Epsilon's customers and these companies' customers would be even worse.

It is unclear how the hackers obtained access to Epsilon's systems, but it is likely that the company fell victim to a targeted attack, similar to those suffered by Comodo and RSA.

More details at Brian Krebs's security blog here, while collects email warnings sent out by Epsilon's customers. Advice for email service providers on how to minimise the risk of falling victim to such attacks can be found at CAUCE here.

Posted on 05 April 2011 by Virus Bulletin



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