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  • Writer's pictureFifth Street

Data breach and credibility

Since 2014, 500 million customers have fell victim to their data being compromised if they ever stayed at Starwood or Marriott hotels. And the crazy part is the breaches were not discovered until September 2018.

The data that was stolen consisted of email addresses, passwords, arrival and departure dates to and from the hotel, and passport numbers.

In a statement the Marriott released, it stated “for approximately 327 million of these guests, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.”

They also discovered that some credit card numbers may have been stolen as well, but were not absolutely sure because of the encryption type. They have taken the necessary legal steps to find out for sure and will reach out to the effected customers as soon as possible.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s president and CEO addressed the public personally saying, “We deeply regret that this happened. We are working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information, with a dedicated website and call center…we are also devoting the resources necessary to phase out Starwood systems and accelerate the ongoing security enhancements to our network.”

With the statements that have been released, the Marriott seems to have responded to a dreadful situation in the best way possible.

Although they are doing what they can, the company has left some stones unturned.

Jake Williams, president and founder of cybersecurity company Rendition Infosec, said, “I’m playing guesswork at what some of these statements mean.” One can assume that he is unsure whether Marriott was aware of the four-year-long security breach before it bought the Starwood company in 2016. It will be interesting to see the next move from Marriott and if the trust of the customer has broken their reputation.

Isaiah Lockhart is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in public relations. Lockhart is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.


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