The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced its intention to fine Marriott International just over £99 million for breaches of its data last year.
In November 2018 Marriott announced that around 500 million of its guests had been affected by a data breach of guest information staying at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018 (Marriott International merged with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016).
At the time Marriott said that an investigation had shown that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.
The ICO said it would fine Marriott £99,200,396 for infringements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In a statement the ICO said:
“The proposed fine relates to a cyber incident which was notified to the ICO by Marriott in November 2018. A variety of personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records globally were exposed by the incident, of which around 30 million related to residents of 31 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). Seven million related to UK residents.”
It is believed the vulnerability began when the systems of the Starwood hotels group were compromised in 2014. Marriott subsequently acquired Starwood in 2016, but the exposure of customer information was not discovered until 2018. The ICO’s investigation found that Marriott failed to undertake sufficient due diligence when it bought Starwood and should also have done more to secure its systems.”
It added that “Marriott has co-operated with the ICO investigation and has made improvements to its security arrangements since these events came to light. The company will now have an opportunity to make representations to the ICO as to the proposed findings and sanction.”
In response Marriott said that “The company intends to respond and vigorously defend its position”, with President and CEO, Arne Sorenson stating:
“We are disappointed with this notice of intent from the ICO, which we will contest. Marriott has been cooperating with the ICO throughout its investigation into the incident, which involved a criminal attack against the Starwood guest reservation database.
“We deeply regret this incident happened. We take the privacy and security of guest information very seriously and continue to work hard to meet the standard of excellence that our guests expect from Marriott.”
The news comes in the same week that the ICO announced its intention to fine British Airways just over £183 million for its own data breaches last year.