A massive data breach lasting four years has impacted as many as 500 million customers of Marriott’s Starwood Hotels and Resorts, according to the company. That includes more than a dozen Marriott properties, including the W Hotel, Westin and Sheraton.
Marriott says it discovered the breach all the way back in early September, yet just went public Friday with details. By then hackers got their hands on customers’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, birth dates, passport numbers and worst, credit card information might also have been stolen.
“I’m very disturbed,” said Quinnipiac University cyber security expert Dr. Frederick Scholl. “I’m angry. I’m kind of disgusted.”
Scholl said companies must do more to protect their customers’ personal information. “I feel there is not enough business emphasis on security, at least at some companies,” Scholl said. Until companies step up, Scholl broke down three immediate steps customers must take to protect their identity.
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“Make sure you check the credit card statements. Be more alert, and the third thing is Marriott is a respected brand name and respected company. If it can happen to them, it can happen to other companies,” said Scholl.
For its part, Marriott released a statement saying in part it “…deeply regrets this incident happened.” It goes on to say “From the start we moved quickly to contain the incident and conduct a thorough investigation with the assistance of leading security experts.”
Marriott is offering one year of free WebWatcher enrollment for credit monitoring. The company also said it has begun email notifications to customers and set up a call center to answer questions. You can reach the Marriott data breach hot line at 1-877-273-9481.