Marriott Is Looking At A $123 Million Fine For Their Massive Data Breach In 2018

You might recall that the Marriott hotels chain got hit with a massive data breach in which I was personally affected because I have stayed at a few of their hotels in the last few years. Well, Marriott is looking at a massive fine because of it thanks to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO):

Following an extensive investigation the ICO has issued a notice of its intention to fine Marriott International £99,200,396 for infringements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

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.

The £99,200,396 fine translates to roughly $123 million USD. And if the agency who is handing out this fine sounds familiar, it’s the same group of people that wants to serve up a massive fine on British Airways because of their data breach.  Now like British Airways, Marriott has said that it would contest the fine. But the fact that these fines are being handed out is a good thing. Companies that handle personal data need to understand that if they screw up and lose control of this data, they will be held accountable and it will hurt. So I am all for these mega fines being handed out as it sends a message that companies cannot ignore.

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