When Marriott purchased Starwood Hotel & Resorts for just shy of $14 billion, they had no idea that there was a lot more to that price tag: A looming security issue. If you haven’t seen this plastered across the internet yet, we’ve compiled everything you need to know:
Cyber Breach in Starwood’s Reservation System
Records show that the system first allowed unauthorized access within their system several years ago, dating back to the year 2014. Marriott has since shared with the public that as many as 500 million guests could have been impacted, with a variety of data compromised. This data includes but is not limited to: passport numbers, travel history, loyalty program information, and encrypted credit and debit card information.
Doomed From The Start
Starwood disclosed security breach knowledge to Marriott within one week after the deal was announced publicly. Marriott began integrating to existing Starwood properties in August 2018, which further lead to issues for current owners and franchisees. Loyalty members worried that the size of Marriott would cause the existing brand to lose it’s cherished features, such as being customer-friendly. Not long after, members complained of having issues with reward redemption as well as experiencing poor service with much longer than average wait times. This hack also has many officials worried that stolen data could result in criminals breaking into Marriott’s portal to redeem points or further tamper with sensitive information. In light of the breach, Marriott could pay fines and settlements that ultimately exceed $200 million.
Other Brands are Experiencing Similar Fraud Patterns
In recent years, a plethora of hotel and property management brands have experienced fraud. While fraud at individual hotels is common, due to swiping or keying information instead of utilizing EMV chip card terminals, company-wide fraud at a large magnitude is much more worrisome. InterContinental Hotels Group, Trump hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corp are all examples of major brands experiencing major breaches in recent years.
Stock Market Shares Fall
Marriott shares in early December 2018 were down nearly 6 percent, the biggest decline since June 2016.
Marriott is Sympathetic
In a recent statement: “We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves,” said Marriott Chief Executive Officer, Arne Sorenson. “We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward.” Marriott carries cyber insurance and works diligently to further investigate this issue and to better understand weak points within the reservation system to ensure this does not happen again in the future. Marriott says their guests’ security is an utmost priority right now.
On a lighter note, FortisPay is dedicated to fighting fraud as well as ensuring it doesn’t occur in the first place. If you’re experiencing fraud at your property, click the button below!
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