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Marriott revealed today that it has suffered a huge data breach which may compromise the data of up to 500 million guests who had booked a reservation with a Starwood property prior to September 10, 2018.
The timeline is even more shocking than the sheer number of members affected. Marriott’s investigation determined that the unauthorized access and removal of guest information has been ongoing since 2014, but it was only discovered in early September 2018.
Marriott confirmed in a statement that:
“The company recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it.”
The full scope of the breach is still uncertain, but Marriott believes the hacked database contains information on up to 500 million guests. For approximately 327 million guests, the data includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email, passport number, date of birth, gender, and reservation details.
To make matters worse, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that some members' credit card details have also been compromised.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson issued an apology to members, saying:
“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 has confirmed that it is cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation of the data breach and has begun the process of notifying the regulatory authorities.
Not surprisingly, Marriott's stock plummeted nearly 6% in early trading after announcing the breach. Once the true size of the breach is confirmed, experts believe it will be the second or third largest hack in history, after the 2013 hack of Yahoo, which compromised the details of three billion customers.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Marriott has created an informational website and set up a dedicated call center to provide updates and assistance to members.
If you made a reservation with any Starwood property prior to September 10, 2018, Marriott is offering one year of free access to WebWatcher—a service that alerts you when your personal information is found in places it doesn’t belong on the web.
The WebWatcher tool is currently available for residents of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom via this signup page.
Although there is currently no evidence that fraudulent redemptions are being made from member accounts, this is a great time to review your AwardWallet notification settings.
AwardWallet can notify you when points are redeemed from one of your connected accounts, or when travel reservations are created or modified. To set up alerts, just check the boxes for Rewards Activity, New Travel Reservations, and Changes to Travel Reservations.
Source: CNN Business
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