Marriott Security Breach

30 Nov    Security

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018 – Earlier today, Marriott announced that they had a security breach with their Starwood guest reservation database.  back on November 19, 2018 an investigation discovered that there was unauthorized access to their database, which stores guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018.

On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States.  Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.  The company 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.

The company 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 has already begun notifying regulatory authorities.

“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,” Mr. Sorenson continued.

Marriott will begin sending emails on a rolling basis starting today, November 30, 2018, to affected guests whose email addresses are in the Starwood guest reservation database.


  1. If you have stayed at a Starwood Company hotel (Marriott, etc), then the first step you can take is to immediately call the financial institution that your credit/debit cards belong to and ask them to send you out at new card siting this security breach at Marriott and precautionary methods.
  2. Order peace of mine Identity Theft Protection from Zander Insurance for added protection.
  3. Contact each of the 4 credit bureaus (Innovis, experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and request a security freeze.  See our previous post pertaining security freezes.  Click here

This is your time to be proactive in regards to personal data security.

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