BREACH ALERT: A Data Breach has been discovered from one of the largest hotel brands in the World – Marriott International, from one of their Subsidiaries – Starwood.
Marriott’s investigation into the data security incident involving the Starwood guest reservation database has determined that there was unauthorized access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018.
These 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.
On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States. Marriott quickly engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred.
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Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014. The company recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it. On November 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.
Marriott is still looking at the information to check for Duplicate Information, but it is believed that approximately 500 Million guests have been affected.
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.
Marriott has reported this incident to law enforcement and will continue to support their investigation. The company has already begun notifying regulatory authorities also.
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, Mr. Sorenson continued.
Marriott begun sending emails on a rolling basis starting from November 30, 2018, to affected guests whose email addresses are in the Starwood guest reservation database, along with other listed Support on their News Webpage.
On November 16, 2015, Marriott announced the acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide for $13 billion. A competing offer for Starwood at $14 billion, moved Starwood to cease the deal with Marriott and pursue the offer.
After Marriott raised its bid to $13.6 billion, Starwood terminated the competing agreement and proceeded again with the merger with Marriott. Following all necessary regulatory approvals in the United States and around the world, the merger with Starwood concluded on September 23, 2016, creating the world’s largest hotel company with over 5700 properties, 1.1 million rooms, and a new portfolio of 30 brands.