Global hotel chain Marriott has revealed that it suffered a significant data breach with the data of 500 million customers possibly compromised by attackers.

Marriott received an alert on September 8 from a security tool regarding an unauthorized attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database. Upon inspection, the company discovered that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.

Marriott also learned that an authorized party copied and encrypted information, and took steps to try and remove it entirely. On November 19, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

Duplicates within database are still being identified, but Marriott believes the information on up to 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property is included in the database.

Information copied from the Starwood guest reservation database includes sought-after information such as names, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, and reservation dates.

For some unlucky guests, payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates were also compromised, but the payment care numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption (AES-128). To decrypt the payment card numbers there are two components needed, but Marriot cannot currently confirm or deny the possibility that both were taken.

This is a devastating news for Marriott and its customers given the sheer number of details compromised and the details contained within. Marriott had poor detection measures in place because had they had proper Breach and Intrusion detection capabilities they would have been alerted to the unauthorized access to its systems in real-time over four years ago.

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