Marriott Hacking Compromises 500 Million Guests’ Accounts

A massive data breach at Marriott hotels, once owned by Starwood, has affected roughly 500 million accounts.

Marriott Acquires Starwood Hotels For $12.2 Billion
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A massive data breach at Marriott hotels, once owned by Starwood, has affected roughly 500 million accounts.

Marriott International announced a massive security breach of the Starwood reservation database on Friday after an initial investigation discovered unauthorized access to millions of accounts, according to the Marriott International news center. Marriott acquired the Starwood company back in 2016 but has learned through the investigation that the breach began in 2014.

The cybersecurity team for the Marriott was alerted to an unauthorized attempt at accessing the reservation database for Starwood properties, which include W Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Aloft, Four Points, Element, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, Tribute Portfolio, Design, and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. None of the Marriott brand hotels have been affected by the breach.

The massive hack of millions of accounts compromised the information of guests. That information includes name, credit card numbers and expiration dates, mailing address, phone number, email address, and passport number. Other information that was stolen includes Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, and reservation date.

Starwood hotels are known for its luxury rooms, personalized guest experiences, and well-known guest list. With some hotel rooms going for thousands of dollars per night, many high-profile people stay at Starwood hotels. Some of the hotels also offer long-term stays with apartment-like rooms.

The Westin hotel in California
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Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s President and Chief Executive Officer, reached out in a press statement.

“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 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.”

Saint Regis Hotel in San Francisco, California.
  Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Marriott International wants to assure its guests it is taking every step to protect their information. Support includes a dedicated website, call center, email notification, and free WebWatcher enrollment.

Since the merger began, Marriott has had a tough time combining its computer system with Starwood’s system. Many guests have complained about missing information or glitches in the loyalty program, according to the Associated Press.

The Starwood reservation data breach is one of the largest security hacks on record, along with the data hacks of Hilton, Yahoo, and Target.