Marriott Mega-Breach: Victim Count Drops to 383 Million

Hotel Giant Warns 5.3 Million Unencrypted Passport Numbers Also Stolen

Marriott International says its recently discovered mega-breach isn’t quite as bad as first advertised, in terms of the total number of victims. But it also warns that hackers stole 5.25 million unencrypted passport numbers that its hotels were storing as well as 8.6 million encrypted payment cards.

On Nov. 30, 2018, Marriott said it had suffered a breach that began in 2014 with a breach of the reservation database used by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which Marriott acquired in September 2016 for $13 billion

Marriott originally estimated that the breach exposed information for 500 million customers. It also said that for 327 million customers, exposed information included their “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.”

But on Friday, Marriott said that instead of its estimate of 500 million customers having had some form of personal information exposed, it now believes that 383 million is the “upper limit” of affected customers.

“We concluded with a fair degree of certainty that information for fewer than 383 million unique guests was involved, although the company is not able to quantify that lower number because of the nature of the data in the database,” it says in its revised data breach notification.

Marriott, which is publicly traded on NASDAQ and based in Bethesda, Maryland, owns or franchises more than 6,700 properties across 30 hotel brands located in 129 countries and territories.

Unencrypted Passport Data Stolen

Marriott also says that its breach investigation now counts 25.6 million passport numbers being exposed in the breach, of which 5.25 million were unencrypted. “There is no evidence that the unauthorized third party accessed the master encryption key needed to decrypt the encrypted passport numbers,” Marriott says. But that doesn’t mean that the attackers couldn’t later brute-force decrypt the numbers.



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