5M passports accessed in Marriott breach were unencrypted

Marriott International may have bumped down the number of records affected by a breach of its Starwood division to 383 million, but the hotel chain admitted that five million passport numbers stolen in the incident by an unknown hacker were unencrypted.

“A key question we need to ask is why do hotels need to store passport numbers? One of the biggest impacts of GDPR was that it forced companies to consider [whether] the personal data they hold and ask customers for… was really needed and if so how to properly protect it,” said Matt Aldridge, senior solutions architect at Webroot, who called Marriott’s predicament “a great example of too much data being collected and retained.”

Local governments in some countries require visitor data to be recorded for domestic security purposes. “If this is the case, the relevant personal data should be transferred directly into the relevant intelligence, customs or border control system and should not be retained by the hotel,” Aldridge explained. “This is just one example among far too many where data is being requested and stored without proper justification and certainly without appropriate measures in place to protect that data.”

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