Marriott Starwood hit by massive hack that could affect half a billion people 

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A booking database run by hotel chain Marriott has been hit by a massive data breach that could affect up to half a billion customers. 

The business announced the major data breach of its Starwood guest reservation database in the United States today. 

Stock image of guests checking into a hotel. Picture: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Stock image of guests checking into a hotel. Picture: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Marriott, which has a hotel in Southampton Road, Portsmouth, bought Starwood in 2016. The company includes 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. 

As well as Starwood branded timeshare properties. 

Starwood hotels in the UK include the Park Lane Sheraton Grand, Westbury Mayfair and Le Meridien Piccadilly. 

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Marriott 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.

With approximately 327 million of these guests, the information stolen 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.  

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For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information.

Marriott discovered the data breach on November 19 and following an investigation the company learned that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘We deeply regret this incident happened,. 

‘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 centre. 

‘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.’ 

Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation.  The company has already begun notifying regulatory authorities.