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Marriott seeks to reassure agents and customers after Starwood guest reservation database breach

Marriott has said in a statement that the hotel group has taken measures to investigate and address a data security incident involving the Starwood guest reservation database. 

On November 19, the hotel group's investigation found that an there had been an unauthorized access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018.

On September 8, 2018, it received an alert from an internal security tool about an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States. It engaged security experts and learned that there had been an unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014. The company has recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it. On November 19, the company was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

Marriott also revealed that the database contains information of up to 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 of the customers, payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates were also stolen, but the payment card numbers, the company says, 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.

“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.

The list of 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.


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