The Epsilon Breach: When Trusted Emails Turn Treacherous for Meeting Planners

It may come as no surprise to many in the industry, but your email address was probably stolen on March 30th…..

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, it seems that a whole host of companies including Target, Marriott, Walgreens, Citigroup, Hilton, JPMorgan, Capital One, Kroger, Best Buy, TiVO, HSN and The College Board were all the victims of hacking through their vendor Epsilon.

Here is what the Post had to say, you can read the full article here:

Tens of millions of customers and employees of major banks, hotels and retailers are now at risk of “spear-phishing” attacks after hackers stole their email addresses in what may become one of the biggest data breaches ever, security experts warned.

The massive breach, involving online marketer Epsilon, a unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp, looks like it will mainly put individuals at risk if they respond to camouflaged emails seeking their credit card numbers or other information, though it could help make those emails more believable.

For the meetings and events industry, this breach means that if you belong to Hilton HHonors or Marriott Rewards, which most of us do, you are screwed (me too) and your inbox may now be polluted with crap and phishing emails. You cannot trust anything they send to you from now on, it is all subject to question. It is up to you to determine if you want to open that email from what was once a trusted source.

This should be a lesson to event marketers…. watch where you entrust sensitive information about your attendees, do not let something like this fall to chance and wishful thinking.

I cannot imagine the sick feeling the PR and marketing departments of Marriott and Hilton had when they were informed that they had to send (via email of course) a notice to all of their clients and customers letting them know that they had chosen a company that F$&$ed their customers.

I feel for them, I really do because it could happen to any of us…. I am still pissed that they let it happen, though.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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