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Friday,  July 19, 2024 6:03 PM 

Marriott data hack: here's what you need to know

Marriott data hack: here's what you need to know
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is one of several Marriott brands affected by the data breach

Approximately 500 million guests of Marriott properties have had their personal data compromised in a massive hack of Starwood’s reservation system, the hotel chain confirmed today (Nov. 30).

A subsequent investigation into the incident revealed that unauthorized access to the system had been taking place since 2014.

Affected guests were notified by Marriott via email as of today. In a statement, the company said:

“Marriott deeply regrets this incident happened. From the start, we moved quickly to contain the incident and conduct a thorough investigation with the assistance of leading security experts. Marriott is working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information with a dedicated website and call center…. Marriott is also devoting the resources necessary to phase out Starwood systems and accelerate the ongoing security enhancements to our network.”

READ MORE: Marriott-Starwood merger officially complete

What happened

According to Marriott, the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties, was accessed on or before Sept. 10, 2018. Marriott said that on Sept. 8, it received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database.

During the investigation, Marriott learned that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014, adding that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it. On Nov. 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

What information was accessed

Marriott said that it 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

Starwood properties 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
  • Design Hotels that participate in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program
  • Starwood-branded timeshare properties

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 (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 remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information.

What is Marriott doing

Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation. Regulatory authorities have also been notified.

A dedicated call center for guests’ questions about the incident has also been established, open seven days a week and available in multiple languages.

Marriott is also providing guests the opportunity to enroll in WebWatcher free of charge for one year. The program monitors internet sites where personal information is shared and generates an alert to the consumer if evidence of the consumer’s personal information is found.

More information can be found here.