Reportedly, the breach so far looks to be only a nuisance. Owners of those e-mail accounts may see an increase in spam, and there is a chance that scammers could try to target people by asking them for financial information, but that’s about the worst of it.
Still, it’s a good time to evaluate how you use the Web. To better protect yourself, and your inbox, there’s a simple solution: Divide and conquer.
Impose split personalities on the e-mail world. You probably already do it for work and life. Now do it for the commercial world and the rest-of-life world. Washington Post technology writer Rob Pegoraro wrote about this back in 2009 as one of his tech tips, saying, “It’s a good way to lower the odds of your regular home e-mail address landing on too many mailing lists, both legitimate and illegitimate.”
I have two e-mail addresses. One is crowded with messages from Southwest Airlines, Amazon and iTunes. It was my primary e-mail address, back when Hotmail was all the rage. When I moved over to Gmail, a twinge of nostalgia kept me from fully giving it up. I already had my banks sending me information there, so I kept using it as my Internet database. Now, I’ve got a clean inbox at Gmail and a Hotmail account I visit a few times a month to see if I have any notifications from Wells Fargo. Most of the time I just scan the inbox and delete all.
So, to those caught in Epsilon’s scam and those that escaped this time around, it might be a good chance to set up a new e-mail account. As my mother never says, don’t put all your Internet eggs in one account.