Thursday, March 09, 2006

Computer issue at The Economist

This morning I received nine emails from The Economist with the subject "Address confirmation." Each message was identical, and stated:

Thank you for amending your address details.

We have updated our records accordingly and will deliver your copies of The Economist to the amended address shortly.

If you encounter any problems with the delivery of The Economist, please call Customer Service on 1-800-456-xxxx.


Customer Service.
Since I hadn't amended my address details, I called the Customer Service line (after I had only received three copies of the email)--and it was busy. After a few tries, I got through and waited on hold for quite some time, and then reached a human being. She informed me that this was an "error" and that the entire subscriber base had received these emails, which was the cause of the difficulty getting through on the phone.

This will no doubt be an expensive "error"--but my fear is that this may have been caused by an intrusion, resulting in the exposure of my information. Since there are no doubt numerous California subscribers affected, if this is the result of a hacker compromise they'll be required to issue notifications under California's SB 1386.

UPDATE: An email from the publisher says it was a technical error and not a security issue:
From: "Paul Rossi, Publisher of The Economist" [comcast email address omitted]
Subject: Apology from The Economist
Date: 09 Mar 2006 23:31:01 GMT

Dear Reader,

I am writing to apologise for any e-mails you may have received today from The Economist.

I sent an e-mail this morning asking you to confirm your address details. I understand that in error, we may have sent further e-mails confirming a change to your address.

This was caused by a technical error on our part and I am very sorry for the inconvenience and irritation that this may have caused you.

I want to reassure you that your address and all of your personal details have at all times been secure and will remain so.

If you did not change your details, we will continue to deliver your copies of The Economist to the usual address.

We are aware of the problem and are dealing with it. In the meantime, if you wish to contact me regarding this please e-mail [email address at omitted].

Yours sincerely,

Paul Rossi
Publisher, North America
I never received an email asking me to confirm address details as described in this email.

No comments: