Marriott Says Data Breach Affects 500 Million Guests

by Samuel Abasi Posted on November 30th, 2018

Bethesda, Maryland, USA : Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain, said in a statement today that it has discovered a massive breach on its guest reservation database that impacts approximately 500 million guests.

The company said it had discovered an unauthorized party had “copied and encrypted” data. Marriott learned there had been unauthorized access to its Starwood network since 2014.

In the statement, the firm said: “For approximately 327 million of these guests, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.”

For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates. Marriott said in its release that it has reported the incident to law enforcement.

Marriott International’s statement added: “There are two components needed to decrypt the payment card numbers, and at this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken. For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address or other information.”

“We deeply regret that this incident happened,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s President. “We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves. We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward.”

Marriott said it had received an alert from an “internal security tool” regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the U.S. on September 8.

The leak impacts customers who made reservations at a Starwood property.

The firm said online that Starwood brands include: W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Element Hotels, Aloft Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, Four Points by Sheraton and Design Hotels.

“We are working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information, with a dedicated website and call center,” Sorenson continued.

“We will also continue to support the efforts of law enforcement and to work with leading security experts to improve. Finally, we are devoting the resources necessary to phase out Starwood systems and accelerate the ongoing security enhancements to our network.”

Starting today, Marriott International said it will begin sending emails “on a rolling basis” to affected guests whose email addresses were in the Starwood guest reservation database.

Marriott hack may rank only below Yahoo as one of the biggest of personal data. Yahoo suffered a 2013 security breach that exposed all 3 billion of its users at the time.

Attack is troubling because of the amount of details potentially stolen by the attackers. In 2017 an attack on Equifax Inc. that may have affected about 143 million U.S. customers, also included social security numbers, birth dates, and credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers.

Regulators and consumers have been stepping up their action against companies who’ve suffered security breaches.

The New York Attorney General is opening investigation into a Marriott data breach that may have affected 500 million guests.

In an early tweet Friday, Attorney General Barbara Underwood said residents need to know that their personal information is safe.

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