Hotel chain Marriott is facing a fine of £99 million over a data breach which is estimated to have affected around 339 million customers.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fine relates to a data breach at the company believed to have originated in the systems of the Starwood hotels group in 2014.
Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016 but the breach was not disclosed until November last year.
Hotels managed by the Marriott group include Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire. Mr Trump lends his name to the resort
Starwood, which was acquired by Marriott in 2016, also runs the Park Lane Sheraton Grand
The ICO said the hotel chain had failed to undertake due diligence when it bought Starwood and should have done more to secure its systems.
Last year, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in Europe, which gave regulators increased powers to levy larger fines against companies for data breaches.
Starwood hotels, include Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire, London’s Park Lane Sheraton Grand, Westbury Mayfair and Le Meridien Piccadilly.
Trump Turnberry is run by Marriott resorts but Mr Trump lends his name to it as part of a franchise agreement.
Marriott International’s president and chief executive Arne Sorenson said the company was ‘disappointed’ with the ICO’s announcement and said it would contest the fine.
‘Marriott has been co-operating with the ICO throughout its investigation into the incident, which involved a criminal attack against the Starwood guest reservation database,’ he said.
‘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.’
When first disclosing the breach, the hotel firm said the guest records of around 339 million people had been accessed and said it believed more than five million un-encrypted passport numbers were part of the information accessed.
Seven million records were said to be related to UK residents.
Le Meridien Piccadilly, which is also in the group’s collection of luxury hotels and resorts
The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, which is also part of the Marriott group of luxury locations
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: ‘The GDPR makes it clear that organisations must be accountable for the personal data they hold. This can include carrying out proper due diligence when making a corporate acquisition, and putting in place proper accountability measures to assess not only what personal data has been acquired, but also how it is protected.
‘Personal data has a real value so organisations have a legal duty to ensure its security, just like they would do with any other asset. If that doesn’t happen, we will not hesitate to take strong action when necessary to protect the rights of the public.’
On Monday, British Airways was issued with a £183 million fine by the ICO over its own 2018 data breach.
British Airways faces a £183million fine after the personal details of more than 380,000 customers may have been stolen when hackers attacked airline’s website last year
The Information Commissioner’s Office has imposed the huge cash penalty on the airline – equivalent to 1.5 percent of its turnover in 2017 – after one of the most serious cyber attacks to hit a UK history last year.
BA called in the police in September 5, 2018 after a cyber attack was detected by staff – 16 days after it started on August 21.
British Airways has been handed a huge £183 million fine after card details of more than 380,000 customers were stolen from its website and app
During the data breach tens of thousands of customers had their name, billing address, email address, card payment information – including card number, expiry date and their CVV security code – potentially compromised.
Hundreds of thousands more had their personal details taken without their CVV code captured, it was said.
British Airways chairman Alex Cruz said today the airline was ‘disappointed’ by the initial finding – despite initial warnings the fine could be up to £500million.
He said: ‘British Airways responded quickly to a criminal act to steal customers’ data. We have found no evidence of fraud/fraudulent activity on accounts linked to the theft. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience this event caused.’
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said it would consider appealing the fine as it seeks ‘to take all appropriate steps to defend the airline’s position vigorously’.
The data breach affected 380,000 customers who booked flights online or via the BA app between April 21 and July 28, 2018, and who used a payment card.
BA has insisted it had told customers about the security breach as soon as it could.
BA called in the police in September 5 2018 after a cyber attack was detected by staff – 16 days after it started on August 21
But the cyber failure is a massive blow to the airline’s once renowned reputation for customer service with some victims vowing never to use them again.
The stolen data did not include passport details but did include ‘personal information, the airline said.
BA said it had received no reports from customers who had had money fraudulently taken out of their account.
Following disclosure of the hack, BA promised to compensate affected customers and took out full-page adverts in British newspapers, including the Daily Mail, to apologise to passengers.
It had meanwhile described the mass theft as ‘a very sophisticated, malicious, criminal attack on our website’.