What Do Data Breaches, Globalization and Unprotected Sex Have in Common?

The data breach apology letter has become the new norm.

ByABC News
February 15, 2011, 2:16 PM

April 15, 2011— -- In the 21st century, the data breach apology letter has established itself as a new literary art form.

Countless CEOs from corporations big and small as well as elected officials have had to reach out to the public and offer mea culpas that both communicate how sorry they are that this serious breach happened, and ultimately that there is nothing to worry about because nothing has happened to you … yet.

So how does one communicate that something is both grave and inconsequential? It's not easy, but just take a look at these modern classics from the past few months.

"I deeply regret the exposure of the personal information that occurred and am angry that it happened…. I want to reassure people that the information was sealed off from any public access immediately after the mistake was discovered and was then moved to a secure location. We take information security very seriously, and this type of exposure will not happen again."

- April 11, 2011, Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs, responding to news that 3.5 million Social Security numbers, addresses, birthdates and (somewhat fewer) driver's license numbers left on a easily accessible, public computer server for an entire year (which means that someone has very likely been messing with Texans).

[Related: Human Error Exposes 3.5 Million Texans to ID Theft]

Sound Familiar?

"We are extremely regretful that this incident has impacted…. clients and their customers. We take consumer privacy very seriously and work diligently to protect customer information…. We apologize for the inconvenience that this matter has caused consumers and for the potential unsolicited emails that may occur as a result of this incident. We are taking immediate action to develop corrective measures intended to restore client confidence in our business and in turn regain their customers' confidence."

- April 6, 2011, Bryan J. Kennedy, president of Epsilon, an email marketing firm, responding to news that likely tens of millions of email addresses on the marketing lists of some of the country's largest banks, retailers and lifestyle companies were compromised because an unauthorized user gained access to Epsilon's systems.

[Related: The End of Digital Innocence: What Does the Epsilon Breach Mean?]