United Kingdom watchdog proposes to fine Marriott US$124m for data breach

Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016 but the breach was not disclosed until November last year

The Marriott data breach included 30 million guest records belonging to Europeans.

Hotel chain Marriott is facing a fine of £99 million over a data breach which is estimated to have affected around 339 million customers.

"Make no mistake, the European Union devised GDPR and regulation such as the NIS Directive to improve the standard of cyber putting crucial requirements in place to protect consumers, organisations and our critical infrastructure".

The breach exposed sensitive guest data, including combinations of names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of births, genders, arrival and departure information, reservation dates, and communication preferences.

Regulators said the Starwood system was compromised in 2014 and hackers had access to customer data over a four-year period.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "The GDPR makes it clear that organisations must be accountable for the personal data they hold".

The fine amounts to about 2.4pc of Marriott's total revenue, below the possible maximum of 4pc that the ICO could have levied under the data-protection rules, according to Michael Bellisario, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. "If that doesn't happen, we will not hesitate to take strong action when necessary to protect the rights of the public", Denham said.

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It's the second major fine proposed by the regulator this week.

Marriott has the right to respond to the proposed fine before a final determination is made by the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office. "The company intends to respond and vigorously defend its position".

"We are disappointed with this notice of intent from the ICO, which we will contest", Sorenson said in a statement.

"This particular skimmer is very much attuned to how British Airway's payment page is set up, which tells us that the attackers carefully considered how to target this site instead of blindly injecting the regular Magecart skimmer", as digital threat management company RiskIQ said in a report at the time. It also states that firms must notify authorities about breaches within 72 hours after learning about them. The regulatory process allows Marriott to dispute the fine, which the company plans to do. Marriott has been cooperating with the ICO throughout its investigation into the incident, which involved a criminal attack against the Starwood guest reservation database.

Starwood hotels, include Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire, London's Park Lane Sheraton Grand, Westbury Mayfair and Le Meridien Piccadilly.

The fine relates to an incident disclosed in 2018 in which the company's Starwood database was compromised.

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