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Marriott recently uncovered unauthorized access to information of its guests. What’s worse about this data breach is that it has been going on in the Marriott Starwood hotels since 2014. The breach has impacted over 500 million people who have stayed at the Starwood hotels.
The information that was taken varies from person to person. But, according to the company, about 327 million people had information exposed about either their name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date and communication preferences or a combination of that data. For some, the information that was taken was limited to their name or mailing address, email address or other information.
On top of that, Marriott revealed there was another breach in September where guest information pertaining to Starwood reservations before September 10 were taken.
Starwood hotels operate under a few names: W Hotels, St. Regis, Tribute Portfolio, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Element Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, Four Points by Sheraton and Design Hotels. This also includes Starwood branded timeshare properties.
The breach was discovered when Marriott International Inc. was looking through unusual behavior. Apparently, someone both copied and encrypted guest information before trying to remove it from the system.
Marriott and Starwood merged about two years ago, mainly to combine loyalty programs for their hotels. For Starwood, this merger has been bogged down by technical issues. Even the CEO, Arne Sorenson made a statement on Friday stating that they were still working on phasing out all the Starwood systems.
For those who are impacted by the breach, Marriott has created a website and call center to provide support for those affected. On top of that, the shares for Marriott have dropped down by 6 percent before the opening bell.