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Epsilon Data Breach Increases Phishing Risk

Posted on Apr 07, 2011
You have probably already received one of these e-mails in your inbox: a notice from Verizon, Bet Buy, Marriott, or some other company where you have an online account, saying that a company called Epsilon Data Management, which handles their commercial e-mailing lists, had a breach in security on their servers, and the hackers got away with certain customer data. But the warning states that the data was limited to your name and e-mail address, nothing else.You may have even said, "Okay, no big deal. No really sensitive data was taken."  Unfortunately, it can be a big deal.

The problem is that this data was most likely stolen as part of a "phishing" campaign. This is where bogus e-mails are sent to people in an effort to get them to go to bogus web sites that either launch malware on your computer or ask you for confidential information ("Hey, it sure looked like my bank's web site!") The danger comes in because this data makes these e-mails look even more legitimate because the "Phishers" know you do business with these companies. An article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer offers five basic suggestions for protecting yourself from these "phishing" schemes:

  • Never click on links in e-mails. Use a link you have for that site in your Favorites, or type it yourself into the browser window.
  • Display e-mail in plain text format. Many e-mail programs, like Outlook, can display e-mails with fancy graphics and formatting. But this can hide true web addresses in the displayed links or put malicious code in the graphics themselves.
  • Keep all of your software updated.
  • Type or paste web addresses.
  • Use multiple e-mail addresses. If you register particular e-mail addresses at particular sites, "phishing" e-mails will look more out of place if they are just randomly sending to gleaned addresses.

Check out the article itself for more detailed information on the story, and always be vigilant online. It is one of the most important things you can do to avoid identity theft.

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