Monday, April 4, 2011

So who is Epsilon?

If you're like me, you've received several e-mails from a variety of companies noting that your name and e-mail address were improperly obtained by naughty people. I don't know about you, but these e-mails (four so far for me) were the first time that I had ever heard of the company Epsilon.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's Epsilon's own press release on the matter. (Ignore the date - this is real.)

IRVING, TEXAS – April 1, 2011 - April 1, 2011 - On March 30th, an incident was detected where a subset* of Epsilon clients' customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon's email system. The information that was obtained was limited to email addresses and/or customer names only. A rigorous assessment determined that no other personal identifiable information associated with those names was at risk. A full investigation is currently underway.

For Media Inquiries please contact Jessica Simon (212-457-7135,
For Consumer Inquiries please contact Sarah Branam (303-410-5369,

* Updated April 4, 2011: The affected clients are approximately 2 percent of total clients and are a subset of clients for which Epsilon provides email services.

So, who exactly is Epsilon? Let's read about them:

Our unique blend of expert consulting, marketing data, technology and agency services works together to create authentic customer experiences that enable our clients to build stronger connections with their clients. And we offer a full range of marketing services to help you connect with them anytime, anywhere.

This full-brain approach has earned us numerous accolades including the 2009 DMA Analytics Challenge Winner. Now that’s smart.

Here are a few more reasons you’ll love working with us:

* As a global company, we operate in North America, EMEA and APAC, and employ over 2,200 associates worldwide
* We are the world’s largest permission-based email marketing provider, sending over 40 billion emails annually
* We work with over 2,500 clients, including 7 of the Fortune 10 who trust Epsilon to build and host their customer databases
* Forrester Research ranks Epsilon as a top Database Marketing Services Provider
* Epsilon is an Alliance Data Company (NYSE: ADS)

Put 2,200 of the best minds in marketing to work for you. Contact one of our 25 worldwide offices today.

Let's face it - they must be good at what they do. First off, of the four companies that contacted me, I had no idea that any of them was using a third party to manage their e-mail communications. ("[S]tronger connections with their clients.") Second off, the breadth of companies that contacted me (including a credit card company, a hotel chain, and an electronics chain) indicates that Epsilon's services are very popular. ("We work with over 2,500 clients.")

Personally, my impression is that Epsilon handled this as well as could be expected. Breach discovered March 30, breach publicly announced two days later, Epsilon customers contact their customers beginning right after that.

Neil Schwartzman disagrees - well, I assume that when Schwartzman refers to the breach as "the Fukushima of the email industry," this is not a good thing.

Security must be the top corporate priority. Both Silverpop and Epsilon Interactive were either breached repeatedly, or failed to fully mitigate their initial security lapse in December. I was told by one ESP security staffer that he hadn't been given sufficient resources to affect all the appropriate changes. That is at best lamentable.
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