Over the past few years, there’s been a ton of news regarding major companies and data breaches. From one of the worst data breaches in history (Equifax) to the infamous Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal, it may seem as though a new company is exposed every other week. The latest to fall victim to a massive data breach is the hotel giant Marriott.
The Marriott Starwood Data Breach
Early Friday morning, Marriott International Inc., one of the largest hotel chains in the world, announced that up to 500 million of its Starwood hotels guests may have been affected by a data breach. The breach in question originated back in 2014, but it’s still unclear how long the breach remained active for. However, one thing we do know for sure is that the breach affected at least 327 million individuals.
These compromised records contained a variety of customer information, including full names, phone numbers, date of births, passport information, as well as postal and email addresses. Much of the same information you can gather by using a cell phone spy app. In addition to this, an unconfirmed number of individuals also had their credit card information stolen as well. And while Marriott has declined to comment on the exact number of stolen card numbers, they did mention that they had all been AES-128 encrypted. Unfortunately, whether or not the encryption key had also been compromised during the breach has yet to be determined. So if you’ve stayed at a Marriott Starwood hotel recently, just know that the credit card you used may also be at risk.
Another Troubling Data Breach
While any data breach at a major company can be considered troubling, there’s something even worse about a breach that has gone undetected for over four years. Knowing that an international company as large as Marriott can go several years without detecting unauthorized access is unsettling to say the least. This could mean that any company, large or small, that collects and stores your data could potentially be leaking your personal information without them even knowing. It’s truly a scary thing, especially when you consider how often these data breaches have been happening.
How To Protect Yourself
If you’re one of the millions of customers who have stayed at a Marriott Starwood hotel recently, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from this massive data breach. The first thing you should do is check any email you have registered to Marriott. The company has stated that it will be contacting those affected by the breach via email. So keep an eye out for any inbound emails from Marriott over the next few weeks. Alternatively, you could also use the website www.haveibeenpwned.com to see if your email address has been flagged.
If you do happen to be one of the millions of people affected by this breach, there are a few things you can do. The first step would be to place a fraud alert with one of the three main credit bureaus. Those credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You don’t have to worry about contacting each, as placing a fraud alert at one of these credit bureaus will carry over to the other two. You’ll also want to notify your bank as well, incase someone obtained your credit card information from the breach.