Friday November 30, 2018

Data Breach at Marriott International Affects 500 Million Starwood Customers

Marriott International, a leading hotel and resort chain has released a statement that discloses a data breach associated with 500 million customers that have used its Starwood guest reservation system. On September 10, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database. Marriott hired leading security experts to assist with the investigation and it was discovered that the hackers had unauthorized access to the system since 2014. The cybercriminals had copied and encrypted the information and were trying to purge it from the system. Marriott's security team was able to decrypt and determine that the data was in fact the Starwood guest reservation database.

Of the 500 million affected Starwood customers, 327 million customers had information accessed that included: "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 (AES-128). 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 rest of the guests only limited information such as name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information was accessed. Marriott has reported the incident to law enforcement and notified 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." Marriott began sending emails on a rolling basis on November 30, 2018 to affected guests whose email addresses are in the Starwood guest reservation database. Marriott is providing guests the opportunity to enroll in WebWatcher free of charge for one year. Marriott has established a dedicated call center to answer questions you may have about this incident.