The statement I hear most frequently as to why someone doesn’t enter online promotions is; “I am afraid to enter online contests because I will get inundated with SPAM.” My answer has always been; “It’s perfectly safe. 1) You are not putting any more data into an online entry that could already be located somewhere else on the Internet and 2) hackers don’t care that you entered to win a gift basket.”
Until recently, that statement was true. In the past, each time you would hear of a company’s files being hacked it was always tied to finances; VISA records, MasterCard numbers, Interac data, etc., but last month Epsilon was hacked.
At first I thought it was a joke, but after the 4th, 5th, 6th email from large reputable companies (who use Epsilon to manage a lot of their online marketing data) saying my personal information may have been compromised I began to take notice. I also started to see all the tweets and blog posts talking about the online attack. (posts on: Security Week & Mashable)
It seems the hackers were looking for “innocuous” data so that you could potential be sucked into a phishing scam. So, my original statment is no longer true, but my advice on how to keep yourself safe online still stands.
1) Always use a separate email address for entering.
2) Never put any data online that isn’t easily found elsewhere. eg. name, address, phone number.)
3) Invest in good anti-spam and anti-virus software.
Has this attack stopped me from entering? No. Like all things in life there is an inherent risk, but I feel the rewards far outweight any downside.
Bring on the wins!!