TECHNOLOGY

Online giant’s ‘technical error’ exposes customer information

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Mere hours before the holiday shopping season commences, Amazon is facing customer fallout stemming from an unexpected technical glitch.

Affected customers received an email that revealed the online giant exposed some customers’ names and emails due to a “technical error.” The email said, “Hello, We’re contacting you to let you know that our website inadvertently disclosed your name and email address due to a technical error. The issue has been fixed. This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to change your password or take any other action.”

However, customers remained unsatisfied, and took to Twitter to complain.

A tweet from @gcluley stated, “Amazon warns customers it leaked their names and email addresses. What aren’t you telling us Amazon, and why?”

Another tweet from @briankrebs said, “Amazon’s legit been sending out notices saying sorry we exposed your email address. Seems likely related to this http://wsj.com/articles/amazo … Besides the brevity, what’s giving people pause is they sign the email http://Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com) Why cap the “a” and why no https://? Strange”

Amazon did not answer questions about how many customers were affected by the error nor about how long information was exposed, according to CNBC, which cited BetaNews, which first broke the story.

“Consumer trust is an invaluable currency for digital brands, one that is both hard to obtain and extremely easy to lose,” said Travis Jarae, CEO of OWI, an independent advisory firm focused on trust and the data economy. “Amazon’s hesitance to disclose the full scope, details, and timing of the data breach affecting their customers stands to jeopardize Amazon’s market-leading position of trust with global consumers.”

This is not the first technology snafu that Amazon has suffered. Just as the online giant’s annual Prime Day sale was about to kick-off on July 16, at 3 p.m. EST, Amazon’s website and mobile app both suffered an outage that caused digital deal seekers to receive a variety of error messages that featured the “dogs of Amazon.” Some users were initially unable to enter the site, while others were caught in a loop of pages urging them to “Shop all deals.”

After some investigation, the online retailer reported that a failure to secure enough servers to handle the traffic surge on Prime Day caused the outage. To remedy the situation, the e-retailer launched a scaled-down backup front page and temporarily killed off all international traffic, according to internal Amazon documents obtained by CNBC.

Despite the snafu, shoppers spent an estimated $4.2 billion during the 36-hour shopping extravaganza for Prime members, up 33% from a year ago, according to Bloomberg, which cited estimates from Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter.

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