Marriott Details Starwood Guest Reservation Data Breach
A data security incident involving Marriott’s Starwood guest reservation database is being investigated by the company.
On Nov. 19, 2018, an investigation determined that there was unauthorized access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties* on or before Sept. 10, 2018.
On Sept. 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 representatives say they “quickly engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred.”
Through the investigation, Marriott learned 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. Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.
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 others, 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). Marriott representatives say 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 the incident to law enforcement and the company has 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 said.
Marriott has since taken steps to help guests monitor and protect their information, including the establishment of a dedicated website, info.starwoodhotels.com, and call center.
Marriott will also begin sending emails on a rolling basis starting today, Nov. 30, 2018, to affected guests whose email addresses are in the Starwood guest reservation database.
The company is also providing guests the opportunity to enroll in WebWatcher free of charge for one year. WebWatcher 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.
* 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. Starwood branded timeshare properties are also included.