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Intro

Are you aware of the hidden risks lurking behind your hotel reservations? In 2018, Marriott’s Starwood reservation system fell victim to a colossal data breach, impacting a staggering 500 million guests. Imagine waking up to find your personal information—name, passport number, and credit card details—was unknowingly compromised for four years. This breach, facilitated by weak credentials, sheds light on the pervasive issue of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Delve into the timeline of events to uncover the severity of the breach and its enduring consequences, revealing a cautionary tale for all digital travelers.

The Marriott Data Breach Explained

What Happened?

Marriott‘s Starwood reservation system suffered a major data breach, where hackers gained unauthorized access to encrypted data. This massive breach affected 500 million guests and involved attackers infiltrating the Starwood reservation system (acquired by Marriott in 2016). Data stolen included names, passport numbers, credit card details, and more. It went undetected for four years before its discovery in 2018. Although the compromised data included duplicates, the scale of the breach remains substantial. The attackers exploited weak and stolen credentials, highlighting the common issue of compromised passwords in cybersecurity.

Marriott‘s internal investigation unveiled the breach in November 2018 when they noticed unauthorized access to a database. The company promptly announced the security incident, initiated an email notification process for affected guests, and launched an extensive probe into the matter. The timeline of events demonstrates the severity of the security lapses and the prolonged exposure of sensitive guest information within the Marriott ecosystem

Timeline

  • 2020 (30 October): The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fines Marriott International £18.4 million for the 2018 data breach.
  • 2020 (31st March): Marriott announces the notification of some guests regarding the security incident at a franchise hotel. 5.2 million people were affected.
  • 2020 (February): Marriott found that an undisclosed hotel chain’s network had been compromised, and hackers who stole two Marriott employees’ login credentials may have accessed guest data.
  • 2019 (9th July): The ICO announces its intention to fine Marriott over £99 million under the GDPR for the data breach. Marriott appeals the fine.
  • 2018 (December): Reports suggest that state-sponsored Chinese hackers may be behind the attack.
  • 2018 (30th November): Marriott announces the Starwood guest reservation database security incident, which impacts 500 million records. Emails are sent to the affected guests.
  • 2018 (19th November): An internal investigation reveals unauthorized access to a database containing guest information from various Starwood properties.
  • 2016 (September): Marriott acquires Starwood but continues to use the inherited IT infrastructure instead of migrating to its reservation system.
  • 2014 (10th September): Cybercriminals repeatedly access, encrypt, and download large amounts of customer data from the Starwood reservation system.

Will there be a compensation?

It’s common for large-scale data breaches to result in compensation for affected individuals. The exact Marriott settlement amount may vary based on factors like the user’s location and the extent of the data breach.

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Am I Affected?

If you were affected, you should receive a data breach notification letter within 72 hours of its discovery. But, there have already been cases when these notices don’t get sent out at all, either as part of a cover-up to protect the company’s image or to avoid identifying users who might be entitled to compensation. So in case of a data leak, it’s a smart move to fill out the form and join the claim regardless. 

What To Do?

Whether you believe you were affected or are just exploring your options, you can quickly and easily check your eligibility and compensation amount with our quick data breach checker. In under two minutes, you’ll know how much money you can get and will be able to claim compensation. Give it a try!

Legal Proceedings and Marriott Settlement

Marriott encountered significant legal consequences stemming from a data breach. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed an £18.4 million fine for Marriott’s failure to implement adequate security measures, while Argentina and Brazil issued fines of approximately $444,000 and $1 million, respectively, for the violation of data protection laws. In the US, multiple class-action lawsuits alleged negligence in safeguarding guest data, prompting a $123.6 million settlement. 

Despite not admitting wrongdoing, Marriott agreed to provide affected individuals with credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. This settlement also imposed limitations on future class-action suits related to data breaches. However, challenges were mounted against the settlement, asserting inadequate compensation for affected guests. The legal landscape surrounding Marriott’s data breach remains intricate, with ongoing investigations and potential additional financial repercussions pending.

How to Claim Marriott  Compensation

If you want to get compensation for the data breach, you need to join a group lawsuit, also known as a class action. When you do this, you’ll work with a financial litigation partner who handles everything for you. That is us! Your task is just to apply and then wait to get money

Remunzo handles all the hard work. We set up the lawsuit and take the corporation to court for you. Corporations don’t want to pay money easily, but Remunzo will fight hard to get your settlement payout. When joining thousands of others in a lawsuit like this, the corporation is more likely to pay and the settlement payment amount per person i.e. how much will you get tends to be higher.

Remunzo will keep you updated about the settlement status. But you need to be patient because it can take months till the settlement payments are done and you get paid

Quickly check your eligibility and compensation amount with our simple data leak checker. In under 2 minutes, you’ll know how much money you can get and will be able to claim compensation. Give it a try!

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Impact on Marriott Users

Because of the Marriott hack, users were at risk of malicious things happening to them. The hack compromised passports and credit card details for hundreds of millions of people, threatening identity theft, financial fraud, and other crimes. The stolen data, particularly sensitive personal information, put impacted individuals exposed to fraud, which might have long-term effects on their personal and financial well-being.

The hack highlighted the need for strong cybersecurity and corporations’ data protection responsibilities. Identity-related crimes and financial losses might result from passport data breaches, eroding customers’ trust in Marriott’s data security. Data breaches have far-reaching social effects, stressing the necessity for strong security to protect users. 

Marriott’s Response and Changes in Data Security

Marriott responded to the data breach with a commitment to safeguarding affected guests, exemplified by launching a dedicated website, a customer call center, and email notifications for compromised email addresses. Additionally, the company offered guests a one-year subscription to WebWatcher monitoring software. 

In an official statement, Marriott expressed regret for the incident, emphasizing its dedication to customer data security. The breach prompted the company to reassess and enhance its data protection measures, implementing changes to prevent future occurrences and restore trust among its clientele.

Future Implications and Impact on the Industry

The Marriott data breach’s future implications are likely to involve increased scrutiny of cybersecurity measures within the hospitality industry. As cyber threats evolve, the incident may catalyze stricter regulations and standards to safeguard customer data. This event contributes to a broader trend highlighting the imperative for tech companies to prioritize robust data protection protocols, fostering a climate where users expect and demand more stringent security measures.

In terms of Marriott’s operations and user trust, the settlement could lead to enhanced cybersecurity investments to rebuild customers’ faith. The impact should be primarily addressed to the hospitality industry. It may manifest as a growing awareness and emphasis on data privacy, potentially prompting other companies to proactively address vulnerabilities and fortify their cybersecurity postures to mitigate similar breaches. This incident may influence a shift in industry standards, encouraging a collective commitment to safeguarding user data in an increasingly interconnected digital world.

Other Famous Incidences of Privacy Breaches

Marriott is not the only one that had its data stolen. Hundreds of other companies have faced or will face data breaches in the future. Therefore, we strongly suggest using our Compensation Calculator. This tool will help you find out how many compensation claims you are eligible for and how much money you might get—and we can help you easily get it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Marriott’s data breach involving its Starwood reservation system was a significant event impacting millions of guests worldwide. The breach, which lasted four years before its detection, underscored the vulnerability of weak passwords in cybersecurity. Legal repercussions, including fines and settlements, highlighted the seriousness of the breach. Marriott responded with measures to assist affected guests and improve data security. However, the incident serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges in protecting sensitive information and the need for continual vigilance in the face of evolving cyber threats.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to minimize or prevent Data breach impact?

Using virtual payment cards with spending limits and unique email addresses for different services can greatly reduce the risks of data breaches. Disposable virtual cards protect your financial details, while custom email addresses (like “yourname+service@gmail.com”) help identify compromised services. These strategies add security layers, minimizing the impact of breaches on your personal and financial data.

What to do after a data breach?

In case of a data breach, promptly change your passwords on the affected accounts, making them strong and unique. Activate two-factor authentication for added security. Monitor your financial statements and credit reports for any unusual activity. Alert your bank or credit card provider about potential fraud. Be cautious of phishing scams following the breach and consider a credit freeze. Finally, report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

What is a Data breach notice?

A data breach notice is an official alert sent by an organization to individuals whose personal data, including potentially compromised passwords, may have been exposed in a security breach. Such a notice can often follow warnings from services like Apple or Google indicating that “this password appeared in a data leak.” It details the nature of the breach, affected data types, potential risks, and the organization’s remedial actions. The notice advises on protective measures, such as changing passwords and monitoring credit reports to mitigate harm.

Can I sue, and how to join a class action lawsuit?

Yes, you can sue for a data breach. With Remunzo, joining an active class action lawsuit is easy. Check your eligibility on our platform, and if your case is active, you can join the lawsuit. Remunzo handles all legal proceedings and negotiations for a settlement. These processes can take some time, but we keep you updated throughout. Use our Quick Data Leak Checker to see if you qualify to join and claim compensation.

When will I get paid the data breach settlement?

The time it takes to receive a data breach settlement payment varies, often taking several months after a settlement is reached. Factors like case complexity, number of claimants, and legal procedures affect the timeline. Remunzo will keep you informed about the settlement progress, but patience is key as these processes can be lengthy.

Sources

  1. Hotel Tech Report. “Marriott Data Breach.” [Online]. Available: https://hoteltechreport.com/news/marriott-data-breach
  2. LoginRadius. “Marriott Data Breach 2020.” [Online]. Available: https://www.loginradius.com/blog/identity/marriott-data-breach-2020/
  3. Stony Brook University. “Marriott Data Breach.” [Online]. Available: https://www3.cs.stonybrook.edu/~ise331/Slides/Marriott%20Data%20Breach.pdf
  4. The New York Times. “Marriott Says Up to 500 Million Guests’ Data Stolen in Breach.” [Online]. Available: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/30/business/marriott-data-breach.html
  5. Simmons & Simmons. “Marriott Is Fined £18.4m for Massive Data Breach.” [Online]. Available: https://www.simmons-simmons.com/en/publications/ckgwfvhmp1g2r0a71j9xyp76j/marriott-is-fined-18-4m-for-massive-data-breach

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    Our team counts over 80+ skilled lawyers from 8 countries and has many partner law firms working on your claims. You can trust us to take good care of your claims. We’re working to make a world where taking big companies to court is simple and just a few clicks away for everyone, no matter their budget, skills, or background. Our goal is to build a future where it’s easy for everyone to stand up for their rights and get justice.