Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident – have you had this email?

UK customers affected by the Starwood Hotels & Resorts data breach are now receiving an email from Marriott International (which owns the hotel group).

The Starwood brands affected by the data breach include 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. Starwood branded time share properties are also affected.

The email confirms that:

“On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database. Marriott quickly engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred.

“Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014. Marriott recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it. On November 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

“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. For approximately 327 million of these guests, the information 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. For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information.

“Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation. The company is also notifying regulatory authorities.

“Marriott deeply regrets this incident happened. From the start, we moved quickly to contain the incident and conduct a thorough investigation with the assistance of leading security experts. Marriott is working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information with a dedicated website and call center. We are supporting the efforts of law enforcement and working with leading security experts to improve. Marriott is also devoting the resources necessary to phase out Starwood systems and accelerate the ongoing security enhancements to our network.”

The email also sets out some steps that Marriott has taken since discovering the breach. These include:

  • Establishing a dedicated call centre to answer questions you may have about this incident. The call centre is open seven days a week, and is available in multiple languages
  • Sending emails on a rolling basis to affected guests whose email addresses are in the Starwood guest reservation database  
  • Providing guests with the opportunity to enrol in WebWatcher free of charge for one year. WebWatcher monitors internet sites where personal information is shared and generates an alert to the consumer if evidence of the consumer’s personal information is found.       

Marriott has also provided some additional security steps victims of the breach cantake. This includes:

  • Monitoring your SPG account for any suspicious activity
  • Changing your password regularly
  • Not using easily guessed passwords
  • Not using the same password for multiple accounts
  • Reviewing your payment card account statements for unauthorised activity
  • Immediately reporting any unauthorised activity to the bank that issued your card.
  • Being vigilant against third parties attempting to gather information by deception (“phishing”), including through links to fake websites
  • Contacting the relevant authorities if you believe you are the victim of identity theft or your personal data has been misused.

In the UK, Action Fraud is the national fraud reporting service, and is the starting point for any police investigation into your loss. UK residents should also in form the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Committed to helping victims of data breaches and cybercrime, Hayes Connor Solicitors can also help you to claim compensation following the Starwood Hotels & Resorts data breach. And we can do this on a no-win, no-fee basis. Our initial assessment is always free. We’ll ensure that you are fully informed on this matter and will notify you about the investigation and your legal rights when making a claim.

If you have received an email from Marriott letting you know that your details have been put at risk, get in touch. We’ll let you know if and when you can claim. You can also read our step by step guide to making a data breach claim here.