The Epsilon Email Breach: Why HR and Benefits Managers Should Care

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A massive security breach at email communication provider Epsilon recently resulted in unauthorized access of the names and email addresses maintained by more than 2,500 Epsilon clients, including giant corporations such as Citi, Capital One, Dell, Target and JPMorgan Chase. Employers can learn valuable lessons from this breach that can be applied to relationships with human resources and benefit service providers.

This breach emphasizes the need for employers, especially HR and benefit managers, to perform diligence and contract appropriately with all service providers handling personal information on behalf of the organization, even if the information held isn’t traditionally viewed as sensitive. Human resources professionals typically focus their security efforts on relationships with vendors that handle employees’ Social Security numbers or bank account information, such as retirement plan TPAs, payroll processors and employment verification service providers, or vendors handling protected health information such as health insurers or administrators. However, as the Epsilon breach illustrates, other types of vendors holding less sensitive information can cause problems for employers.

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