First Column IT blog
The Marriott Hack Exposes 500 Million People
It’s nice to get away every now and then, but if you have stayed at any property under the Marriott umbrella, including St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, or W hotel since 2014, there is a good chance that your personal information has been leaked, a spokesperson from parent company Marriott has said. They said the multinational hotel corporation will begin emailing users impacted by the leak in the coming days.
Late in November, Marriott hotels admitted that they had their Starwood reservation database hacked into. The hotel chain said that an entity had unauthorized access for the better part of the past four years. The leak was found to expose names, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, and arrival and departure information for nearly 327 million people. In some cases, credit card numbers and expiration dates were compromised. It is now the second-largest data breach in world history. The only breach that was larger, was Yahoo, which exposed the personal information of about three billion users.
What can you do?
If you are sure that your name is among this massive list of people, you should take the following steps immediately:
- Change Your Password - All Marriott guests should change their passwords immediately and pick usernames and passwords that aren’t easily guessed. Instead of an easy-to-guess passphrase, use four unrelated words with numbers, characters, and a mix of upper and lowercase letters. Also, don’t use the same password for multiple services.
- Monitor Your Accounts - If you think you’ve been exposed in this attack, you should keep an eye on your Starwood Preferred Guest account as well as your credit report. You can sign up for credit monitoring services, but if you are diligently checking your credit regularly, paying someone else to check it is pointless.
- Open an Account Just for Online Purchases - It may seem to be a pain to juggle accounts but keeping a credit card specifically for online shopping and reservations is a good way to mitigate your exposure to major hacks like this one.
- Limit Access to Information - Only share what you have to share in order to get the products and services that you are purchasing. Any additional information is just a bonus for hackers and scammers if they are able to get their grubby little hands on it.
If you would like more information about these data breaches, how to secure yourself, and what to do when your information gets compromised, return to our blog regularly for more useful information.
Have you been hacked or had your identity stolen? Leave your experience with us in the comments section below.