St. Paul firm closely watching Epsilon security breach

One St. Paul CEO is closely following the behemoth Internet security breach that exposed millions of email addresses belonging to customers of Target, Best Buy, Verizon, and several dozen other companies.

The hacking of the online marketing firm Epsilon has GovDelivery’s Scott Burns slightly jittery, but not panicked.

“Any security breach when you’re in the technology industry opens your eyes a little bit and makes you a little bit nervous,” says Burns, CEO and co-founder of GovDelivery.


His company, headquartered just a few blocks from MPR in the Hamm building in downtown St. Paul, bills itself as the world’s leading provider of digital channels linking governments to their citizens. Clients have included the city of St. Paul, FEMA, and even overseas entities such as the European Space Agency.

So if you’ve ever signed up to receive snow-emergency alerts from the city of St. Paul, then GovDelivery probably has your email address.

In fact, the company has collected millions of such records over the years, Burns says. Neither his company, nor a third-party provider that works with GovDelivery, has had a data breach, Burns says. And he feels confident in the level of expertise on his staff to protect its records from hackers.

But Burns says it’s hard to say how vulnerable his company is — because the Epsilon marketing firm hasn’t said much about what caused the security lapse.

“You want to learn as much as possible, which we haven’t been able to do yet on this particular incident, because they haven’t been particularly forthcoming on what happened,” Burns says.

Online security experts are using the Epsilon incident as a teachable moment, reminding consumers to be wary of bogus emails purporting to be retailers or banks and asking for credit-card information and other personal data.

Burns just wants to make sure the Epsilon breach doesn’t discourage citizens from using text messages, social media and email to communicate with their government:

“I don’t foresee any sort of major change in people’s willingness to interact with their government and provide information to the government in the interest of getting better service.”

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