What some online security experts are calling the largest breach in the history of the internet has triggered concerns that a marked increase in the amount of the criminal phishing activity known as Spear Fishing will be witnessed in the inboxes of individuals and small businesses across the nation and around the world. To learn how this will impact your email and online marketing, read below and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself.

Phishers Can Address Spam Victims by Name

Phishers can use the victim’s name within the email itself in a ploy designed to gain the trust and confidence of the individual. Once that is achieved it is the goal of the criminals to get the user to click on a link in the email that leads to a clone of the legitimate login screen devised to steal the customer’s user name and password.

Email Addresses Stolen from 7 of the 10 Largest Companies in the World

Millions of customers of the following corporations are in the process of receiving notices that their names and email addresses were compromised by hackers: Ameriprise Financial, Barclays Bank, Best Buy, Brookstone, CapitalOne, Citibank, Disney, Home Shopping Network, JPMorgan Chase, Kroger, L.L. Bean, Marriott, McKinsey & Company, Ritz Carlton, TiVo, US Bancorp, and Walgreens. The data theft occurred from the servers of Epsilon, a subsidiary of Alliance Data Company, which sends 40 billion emails per year on behalf of seven of the ten largest multi-nationals in the world as well as 2,500 other corporate clients.

A Fresh Wave of Spam Is on Its Way to Millions

With these data breaches revealing the email addresses of millions of bank, retail and communications company customers, hackers have reached new heights in their nefarious arts. A considerable number of customers and companies that do business with these firms can look forward to receiving a fresh new wave of spam messages in the coming days.

Contact Authorities when Receiving Spam

The first step when receiving a spam email is to report it to the various authorities and agencies that deal with this pestilent problem. Contacting Spamcop, the Federal Trade Commission, the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Anti-Phishing Working Group will help to curb the amount of spam being received by all, thus it is a highly recommended action. You may also want to refer to the Spam & Phishing Page on StaySafeOnline, which lists the spam contacts for all ten of the United States’ leading ISPs.