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article imageMarriott data breach reminds travelers to be on guard Special

By Tim Sandle     Dec 1, 2018 in Travel
With Marriott International admitting that hackers stole about 500 million records from its Starwood Hotels reservation system, travelers need to be on their guard, according to Scott Grissom, Chief Product Officer, LegalShield.
The Marriott cyberattack began four years ago, exposing millions of customers to a loss of their personal data, including some payment card numbers. This includes 5-star hotel brands like Sheraton, Ritz Carlton and the Autograph Collection. The type of data potentially compromised includes passport details, phone numbers and email addresses. For some others, it could include credit card information.
The attack could be costly to Marriott in other ways, according to The Financial Times. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires companies to inform regulators within 72 hours of finding the breach, or face fines of up to 4 per cent of global revenue. However, it transpires that Marriott knew about the data breach in September 2018 and delayed informing customers until the end of November.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has, however, said: "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."
The implications of this data breach mean that travelers need to be aware, especially given the time of year. "'Tis the season for traveling; however, vacationers beware. As proven by Marriott’s recent data breach, which potentially put 500 million guests’ information at risk, it is more important than ever to remain safe when traveling this holiday season", says Scott Grissom, Chief Product Officer, LegalShield in conversation with Digital Journal.
In terms of the risks arising from the databreach, Grissom says: "While it is not yet established whether the sensitive financial data of its guests has been exposed, Marriott confirmed that data containing a significant amount of personally identifiable information might have fallen into the wrong hands."
This data extends to "guest’s personal details such as name, date of birth, mailing and emailing address, phone numbers and passport numbers were exposed in the breach – information that can be pieced together to form a profile that can be used fraudulently as part of ID theft."
There is also further background data that has been exposed, providing a rich information stream for criminals: "In addition, account information such as arrival and departure information, reservation date and communication preferences, were revealed, providing thieves the knowledge of when guests will be leaving their homes unoccupied."
Grissom pits out a general warning to travelers: "As holiday travel season is underway, it is important for travelers to be prepared for the unexpected, because as proven by this latest breach, you can never be too safe. Being alerted quickly to possible fraud related to the trading of stolen information can be critical in stemming any damage to one's finances, including banking and credit accounts."
In terms of what people can do, he makes reference to products like those produced by LegalShiled: "Only comprehensive monitoring, consultation, and ultimately identity restoration, such as IDShield provides, can deliver peace of mind in the case of this and other data breaches."
More about Marriott, cyber atack, Cybersecurity