Hospitality major – Marriott confirmed that there was unauthorised access to the Starwood guest reservation database on November 19, 2018, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties* on or before September 10, 2018. Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation. The company has already begun notifying regulatory authorities.
“We deeply regret this incident happened,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott. “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.
What exactly happened?
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. It was learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorised access to the Starwood network since 2014. The company recently discovered that an unauthorised 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.
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 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.
Guest Support – Marriott has taken the following steps to help guests monitor and protect their information:
- Dedicated website and call centre to answer guests’ queries
- Email Notification will be sent to affected guests
- Free WebWatcher Enrollment for guests 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.