Marriott reveals up to 500m hotel guests hit by data hack

Half a billion hotel guests may have had their data compromised in a hack of the Starwood reservation database

Marriott international, Starwood, Hacking, Reservations

Marriott International revealed that up to 500 million hotel guests may have had their data compromised in a hack of the Starwood reservation database.

Marriott said it was alerted on September 8 that there had been an attempt to hack their reservation database in the United States.

The 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. The operator revealed that Starwood branded timeshare properties are also included.  

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The company launched a probe, and discovered "that there had been unauthorised access to the Starwood network since 2014."

In a statement, Marriott revealed that the company has taken measures to investigate and address a data security incident involving the Starwood guest reservation database.  

On November 19, 2018, the investigation determined that there was unauthorised access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018.   

 The company has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but believes it contains information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property.  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, but the payment card numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption (AES128). 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.  

Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation and the company has already begun notifying regulatory authorities.  

“We deeply regret this incident happened,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s president and chief executive officer.  

“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. Today, Marriott is reaffirming our commitment to our guests around the world.  We are working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information, with a dedicated website and call center.  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,” Sorenson continued.

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