Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who is Epsilon and why does it have my data? | InSecurity Complex - CNET News

Who is Epsilon and why does it have my data? | InSecurity Complex - CNET News

E-mails from dozens of companies--including Citibank, Chase, Capital One, American Express, Walgreens, Target, TiVo, TD Ameritrade, and Ritz Carlton--began flooding inboxes this week after a company called Epsilon announced that its system had been breached. Some people have reported receiving as many as four of these warnings.

Sporting a tag line of "Marketing As Usual. Not A Chance," Epsilon is one of a growing number of companies that offer outsourced services for helping companies attract and keep customers. In addition to offering e-mail marketing services and managing customer e-mail databases for clients, Epsilon monitors social networking and other sites to see what people are saying about a company, advises on markets to target, helps develop and maintain customer loyalty programs, and offers Abacus, "the world's largest cooperative database with over 8.6 billion consumer transactions and 4.8 billion business transactions" used for creating lists of prospective customers. The different data Epsilon sells includes age, profession, residence, ethnic information and political affiliation, according to a list published on the site of security firm Magmatic.

Most people don't realize that e-mails that look like they come from a trusted merchant may actually be coming from Epsilon or one of its ilk, who have been handed over the customer data from the merchant.

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