The CEO of Alliance Data apologized Wednesday for a massive data breach at the company's Epsilon subsidiary that may have allowed the names and email addresses of millions of customers at many of the nation's most prominent companies to fall into the hands of hackers.
"On behalf of the entire Alliance Data organization, we sincerely apologize,” said Ed Heffernan, chief executive officer of Alliance Data, in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
“While we can’t reverse what has already happened, we are taking every measure necessary to protect our clients and their most valuable assets — their customers. Once detected, we took immediate action to implement additional safeguards and launched a full investigation. We will leave no stone unturned and are dealing with this malicious act by highly sophisticated cyber-thieves with the greatest sense of urgency.”
The company also said for the first time that it is working with federal authorities as well as outside experts to investigate the massive hack and find out who was responsible.
Also, it said that it has resumed email marketing campaigns even as many client firms are just beginning to explain to their customers that their data had been hacked.
A company spokeswoman would not say how many email campaigns had been stopped or for how long they had been offline.
Among the most recent of about 50 companies to publicly reveal they had been victimized in what may be the largest data breach in history was Verizon Communications, which joined the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Best Buy and TiVo in telling customers their data had been stolen.
Epsilon said the hack affected about 2 percent of its client base, and said the volume of emails the company puts out will not be affected.
Epsilon sends about 40 billion emails a year on behalf of its clients, who turn to Epsilon to create email marketing campaigns that appear to come from the brand-name clients themselves.
The company said the "greatest risk" it faces is "the potential loss of valued clients." "Specifically, the company’s number one priority over the near- and long-term will be to ensure that Epsilon’s clients regain complete trust in the company’s operations," Alliance Data said in its press release.