Well, it has happened again. Epsilon, a company that specializes in
spam email advertising has been hacked. We're being assured that the only "private" data that was stolen was names and emails (not bank account, credit card or password information) for customers of Kroger, TiVo, US Bank, JPMorgan Chase, CapitalOne, Citi, HSN, Ameriprise, LLBean, Lacoste, Abe Books, McKinsey & Co., Riz-Carlton rewards, Marriott Rewards, New York & Co., Brookstone, Walgreens, The College Board, Disney Destinations, Best Buy, and Rober Half Technologies, according to Security Week.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Last June, hackers stole a bunch of email addresses of AT&T customers and published them, and in December, Wal-Greens customers were hit. In October of 2009, hackers stole and published both the e-mail addresses and passwords of several web-based email providers' customers.
To protect yourself if you suspect your email address may have been involved in this latest attack, follow the rules of common sense. Don't open unsolicited emails from people or companies you weren't expecting. If you accidentally do, don't click on the web address in any e-mail (go to the website directly by typing the url in your browser - some links appear to be from your bank, for example, but really go to a mock-up site that will steal your password when you try to access your account). Don't ever give your password or account information over the phone or by e-mail.
To help protect yourself in the future, have a separate email address to give to c ompanies that require it to do business with them. These are nothing but "sign-up" lists for spam, and you might as well send it all to the same place. If you haven't done this before, and you're already getting hit with spam at your current email address, you might want to consider using your current e-mail address for that purpose, and start a new e-mail address for your actual friends, family, and those people you really want to hear from.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.