Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Marriott Says 5 Million Unencrypted Passport Numbers Part of Breach

Marriott reduces size estimate of Starwood hack Modal Trigger Getty Images
Russell Knight | 06 January, 2019, 22:57

In an update on Friday, the world's biggest hotel company said that around 383 million customers were affected by a data breach in November, lower than the 500 million initially reported.

Regardless, the breach of Marriott's Starwood hotel unit seems poised to earn the title of the largest known breach of personal data, dwarfing Equifax's 2017 security incident by more than a hundred million souls.

Marriott International said on Friday (Jan 4) that fewer than 383 million customer records were stolen in a massive cyber attack disclosed last month, down from its initial estimate that up to 500 million guests were affected.

This number could fall further when factoring in duplicate records, Marriott said.

Marriott is putting in place a mechanism to enable its designated call center representatives to refer guests to the appropriate resources to enable a look up of individual passport numbers to see if they were included in this set of unencrypted passport numbers. Replacing a passport is much more time consuming and involved than replacing a payment card compromised in a breach, and passport numbers are quite valuable as unique identifiers.

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When the breach was first announced, Marriott had stated that there was unauthorized access to the Starwood reservation database since 2014 and that these third-parties had access to data such as passport numbers, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) account details, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.

Marriott said it had no evidence to suggest that the perpetrators had the master encryption key to unlock encrypted data.

All of the compromised information came from a guest database belonging to Marriott's Starwood subsidiary.

Marriott now believes that 8.6 million encrypted payment cards were involved in the hack on its Starwood room reservation network. The Starwood reservations database includes the Starwood brands 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. Some of those cards were also expired as of September 2018. Regardless, Marriott says there isn't any evidence that the hackers acquired the tools needed to decrypted the card info.

"With the completion of the reservation systems conversion undertaken as part of the company's post-merger integration work, all reservations are now running through the Marriott system". The biz is also offering to cover a year of identity-theft monitoring service.

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