If you're one of more than 24 million people who have entered account information on Zappos.com, you've probably gotten an email already giving you a good news-bad news scenario.
There's really no good news. It's just that it could have been worse.
"We were recently the victim of a cyber attack by a criminal who gained access to parts of our internal network and systems through one of our servers in Kentucky," Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh told employees in an email. "We are cooperating with law enforcement to undergo an exhaustive investigation."
Cyber thieves, as they did last year raiding Sony's Playstation network, Citibank and email marketer Epsilon, got Zappos' customers basic information (phone number, address, email, etc.). They also got encrypted passwords, according to Zappos, but did not get the separately stored credit card data. That was the good news.
Even though the thieves got password information that was encrypted, Zappos is still urging its customers to change their other passwords since a good percentage of us use the same passwords over and over again (not a great idea, by the way).
Keep an eye out for phishing emails - the most likely result of a breach like that. Crooks have enough information to approach you with a customized request that could appear legitimate. Avoid the temptation to respond to an email purporting to be from someone you do business with, if it involves clicking a link and/or providing any personal or financial information.
If you suspect the request is really from a bank or business you deal with, then reach out through a known phone number or log into their site the way you normally do - without following the directive or link from the email.
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About the author
Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com