Last week, it was revealed that the Starwood guest reservation system had been hacked, affecting 500 million guests. The Starwood chain is a subsidiary of Marriott International, and they are picking up the pieces of the breach, which dates back to 2014. Personal information of the 500 million guests have been compromised, including names, email addresses, passport numbers, and credit card data. It has been deemed by CNN to be “the second biggest corporate data breach in history.”
The Starwood hotels that have been affected include:
- W Hotels
- St. Regis
- Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
- Westin Hotels & Resorts
- Element Hotels
- Aloft Hotels
- The Luxury Collection
- Tribute Portfolio
- Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts
- Four Points by Sheraton and Design Hotels
- Starwood-branded timeshare properties
So, what’s being done to fix this problem, and what can you do about it?
Mariott is in the process of emailing all of the guests that were affected, and they have set up a website to answer your questions about the data breach. But we have some helpful security measures that you should take to protect your data. These measures should be practiced on a daily basis.
Security Measure #1: Stop Oversharing
Social media is being used frivolously with people sharing too much information, from their bathroom schedule to their home address. Most people doing this would never admit these details to a stranger in front of them, but because they are using a device, they don’t feel the reality of exposure.
What should you do, then?
The smart way to share is to post highlights as opposed to every little detail and do it every few days instead of every day. When it comes to sensitive information, such as family problems, don’t post it. Chances are, the people involved don’t want the situation known by outsiders. If you’re looking for help, talk to the right people instead by phone or in person. You will get better results.
Security Measure #2: Monitor Your Accounts
Businesses push consumers to go paperless and input their personal information into a multitude of websites. Whether it’s banking, shopping, or job hunting, it’s hard to get results without putting your information into a device. Everyone is connected, and we’re trying to reduce the amount of paper used—which is commendable—but it means we must exercise more caution.
Bank accounts—and now Starwood Preferred Guest accounts—are among the most important ones to monitor. Marriott has made several recommendations to protect your data:
- Freeze your credit cards.
- Consider credit monitoring services.
- Sign up for identity theft protection.
- Dedicate a credit card to a certain type of transaction, such as online shopping.
If you were a guest of a Starwood hotel or not, you should always check your accounts on a regular basis, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. A good way to strengthen this practice is to keep all of your receipts; if you forget about products you bought or a store you were at for the first time, your receipts will help you verify what is suspicious and what is not in your account.
Security Measure #3: Think Before You Click
Have you just received an email from a person or business? Whether or not you know this person or have an account at that bank, don’t click any links. Even if you don’t have the slightest doubt that your friend or bank sent you the email, leave the cyber world and verify by phone or in person that it is legitimate.
Our very own vice-president and co-founder received a phishing invite through LinkedIn Messenger. No matter what platform or browser you use, always have a good amount of skepticism before clicking on any links or giving over your personal information.
Security Measure #4: Seek Certified and Professional Help
Through penetration testing, our Orenda Security experts can simulate real-world cyber attacks to find the vulnerabilities hidden within your system. With the results of our cybersecurity risk assessments, we will help you achieve a strong security posture. Contact us today and request a quote!