The possible theft of millions of email addresses from an advertising company could cause problems for a tremendous number of people. Several large companies started last month to warn customers to expect fraudulent emails that try to coax account login information from them. Companies behind such brands as Chase, Citi and Best Buy reported that hackers may have learned their email addresses because of a security breach at a Dallas-based company called Epsilon that manages email communications.
The email addresses could be used to target spam. It’s also a standard tactic among “online fraudsters” to send emails to random people, purporting to be from a large bank and asking them to login in at a site that looks like the bank’s site. Instead, the fraudulent site captures their login information and uses it to access the real account. The data breach could make these “phishing” attacks more efficient. That’s because it allows the fraudsters to target people who actually have an account with the bank.
Among the companies affected are financial-service companies such as Capital One Financial Corp., Barclays Bank, U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ameriprise Financial Inc. Retailers involved include Best Buy Co., TiVo Inc., Walgreen Co. and Kroger Co. The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that runs the SATs, also warned that a hacker may have obtained student email addresses.
Walt Disney Co.’s travel subsidiary, Disney Destinations, has sent emails warning customers. Hotel chain Marriott International Inc. also has issued a similar warning. Epsilon said that its system had been breached, exposing email addresses and customer names but no other personal information. Epsilon, a unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp., sends more than 40 billion emails annually and has more than 2,500 clients.
Source: Associated Press
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