Last week’s Epsilon data breach is the Exxon Valdez of privacy. It is a wake-up call that it is time to reform our privacy infrastructure from the ground up, much as the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 should have served as the wake-up call to reform our energy delivery infrastructure to prevent disasters like last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon spill.
On Friday, the email marketing firm Epsilon revealed that tens of millions of private names and email addresses were stolen, putting millions of people at risk of fraud. Intruders were able to harvest names and email addresses that belong to customers of companies like Best Buy, Capital One, and J.P. Morgan. Banks and retailers gave this data to Epsilon to run email marketing campaigns. In turn, someone penetrated Epsilon’s security, and was able to download millions of names and addresses, which presumably are being sold on the black market at this very moment