April 4, 2011, 3:14 PM

E-mail attack hits online retailer clients of Epsilon

Best Buy, Walgreens and HSN have warned customers they may receive malicious e-mails.

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Epsilon, a provider of e-mail management services to more than a dozen retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, as well as banks and other companies, reported Friday that it had detected a March 30 unauthorized entry into its e-mail system. Intruders were able to access the names and e-mail addresses of some of the customers of Epsilon’s clients.

Several of Epsilon’s clients, including Best Buy Co. Inc., Walgreen Co. and HSN Inc., alerted their customers through e-mail and other means that some e-mail addresses had been exposed to unauthorized users who had infiltrated Epsilon’s e-mail system. Best Buy and Walgreens said in their alerts that intruders into Epsilon’s system accessed only e-mail addresses, but HSN noted that the intruders had accessed names and e-mail addresses of some of its customers.

Each of these companies also noted that a full investigation of the matter was underway by law enforcement.

Epsilon and its clients also noted that no information beyond customer e-mail addresses and names were accessed by intruders.  “A rigorous assessment by Epsilon has determined that no other information is at risk,”  Barry Judge, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Best Buy, says in an e-mail alert to customers.

“No financial data, or other sensitive information, was accessed,” HSN said in a statement. “The information accessed was limited to the customer's name and e-mail address.” But HSN and other retailers warned customers that, as a result of the Epsilon breach, they may receive e-mail spam that could attempt to trick them into revealing confidential information such as credit card account numbers and passwords.

“HSN would never ask you to e-mail personal information, such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers,” the retailer says in a warning to customers. “If you receive such a request, please do not respond, click on any links, or download any attachments.”

HSN is No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Walgreens is No. 68 and Best Buy is No. 10.

Sona Chawla, president, e-commerce at Walgreen Co., will speak at the at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “Mobile, web, stores: Coordinating all channels to capture today's always-on consumer."

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