Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
The Ask Leo! newsletter subscriber list was stolen by criminals. I discuss the situation and what, if anything, can or should be done.
I hope you know that I do not, and will not, sell your subscribed email address to anyone. Period. I use it only for the newsletter. (The only exception might be if the day comes that I sell Ask Leo! in its entirety - but that's not happening any time soon.)
I do not sell or rent your email addresses to anyone. It's part of the trust I know you place in me when you sign up for my newsletters.
Unfortunately, spammers and organized crime don't care about trust, and don't play by the same rules. They will do anything illegal, immoral or unethical they can in order to fill your email inbox with spam.
Over the weekend of October 16 & 17, 2010 they did just that.
That's you and I, my friends.
I'm very sorry to report that the email service provider I use for my newsletters, Aweber - in my opinion the best in the industry - was hacked into by exactly those criminal elements, and the subscriber list for my newsletter and many others were stolen.
I know I've been getting a lot more spam on my subscription email address, and I expect you are too.
I apologize for that.
Many people's knee-jerk reaction is to say "change list providers!", particularly when they learn this was the second such breach in the last 12 months.
After thinking about it deeply, and even asking a few friends "are there better alternatives?", I'm electing to remain with Aweber.
I happen know Aweber's CEO personally - and while many of you may believe that may bias my judgment, my position is that it also gives me a unique perspective on the ethics and culture behind the company, the industry and a certain insight into how seriously they take this issue.
They, and I, take this very seriously.
The fact is that we're waging a war with spammers. All email service providers - all of them - are under constant attack from people attempting to steal the subscriber lists that they manage. I would be shocked if there was a single provider that had not suffered some kind of compromise in this battle.
Aweber, being the industry leader, is of course the biggest target.
There was no answer to "are there better alternatives?". Aweber has been, and remains, the best in my opinion and in the opinion of several people that I trust.
One of those people is my good friend Randy Cassingham of This is True. He was also impacted by this, and he wrote up an excellent overview of his position on it. His thoughts so closely match my own that rather than repeating everything he said I'll simply point you to his write up: This is True List Break-in.
You can also read Aweber's own statement on the break-in: Email Subscriber Data Accessed; What We're Doing About It.
Since all they got was an email address, the only thing that'll happen is that you'll see spam on it where you may not have before.
If you're using a disposable email address for your subscriptions, you might consider changing your subscription to a new address. You can do that yourself with the link at the bottom of every issue or by following the instructions here: How do I change the email address on which I get your newsletter?
And again, I'm sorry that this happened at all.
As Randy so clearly put it on his page: you and I are "collateral damage" in this battle in the war with spammers.
Leo A. Notenboom
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