The Marriott International hotel chain has confirmed that it has been hit by yet another data breach that exposed staff and customer information – an unfortunate security incident for a company that was affected by a number of major hacks in recent years.
In the latest incident, first reported by DataBreaches.net, hackers are reported to have stolen around 20GB of data, including confidential business documents and customer payment information, from the BWI Airport Marriott in Baltimore, Maryland. Redacted sample documents published by DataBreaches appear to show credit card authorization forms, which would give an attacker all of the details needed to make fraudulent purchases with a victim’s card.
Melissa Froehlich Flood, a spokesperson for the Marriott, told The Verge that the company was “aware of a threat actor who used social engineering to trick one associate at a single Marriott hotel into providing access to the associate’s computer.” Before going public with the hack, the threat actor had tried to extort the hotel chain but no money was paid, Froehlich Flood said.
The threat actor did not gain access to Marriott’s core network and accessed information that “primarily contained non-sensitive internal business files,” the spokesperson said. But, nonetheless, Marriott is preparing to notify between 300 and 400 individuals about the data breach. Law enforcement agencies have also been notified, she said.
Based on current reports, the latest incident is far less severe than previous hacks that have targeted the hotel chain. In 2018, Marriott revealed that it had been hit by an enormous database breach that affected up to 500 million guests of the Starwood hotel network, which was acquired by Marriott in 2016. Two years later, another data breach in 2020 exposed the personal information of 5.2 million guests.
“As this latest data breach demonstrates, organizations that are victims of previous attacks are more likely to be targeted in the future,” said Jack Chapman, VP of threat intelligence at cloud security provider Egress. “Social engineering is a highly effective tool and cybercriminals know that an organization’s people are its biggest vulnerability – which is why they return to this technique again and again.”