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Marriott reveals that hackers accessed sensitive information of 500 million guests

Updated Nov 30th, 2018 4:27PM EST
Marriott Hack

Another day, another hack. As we referenced yesterday with respect to the Dunkin’ Donuts hack, it seems that we can’t even go a week without a new high-profile security breach making the news. In light of that, a more serious security breach appears to have impacted Marriott. Specifically, the hotel chain today revealed that an unauthorized party accessed its Starwood guest reservation database this past September.

Marriott relays that it first became aware of the breach on September 8th when an internal security tool flagged an attempt by someone aiming to access the aforementioned reservation database. Upon consulting with outside security experts, Marriott ultimately realized that someone had been accessing the database since 2014 and had been copying all sorts of sensitive information.

All told, information involving upwards of 500 million guests were compromised over the last four years. And speaking to the gravity of the breach, Marriott describes the extent of the compromised information as follows:

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.

Hacks certainly happen with regularity these days, but what makes this particular incident stand out is how long the breach went completely undetected.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.