Marriott Database Leak : Where will the data go?

January 10, 2019
Marriott Database Leak

Marriott Database Leak: Where will the data go?

Following up with the recent Marriott Database Leak which has been said to be state sponsored by a rival state of USA, the leak is severe and could have contained details that are vital which may have included credit card details. In case the hackers behind the breach wanted to profit more than what they were asked to do, then the information can fetch a good price for other cybercriminals who crave for Intel and information.

First suspected place it will go to is the internet, but less likely on the Clearnet, unless the motive is to dump it publicly. Why? Because the Clearnet can be easily indexed and crawled by search engines in which anti-cybercrime groups can easily counter the selloff of the leaked database. Therefore, using search engines most likely won’t land people the Marriott database leak.
Dark web is most likely the place to go, with all of the dark web marketplace that currently exist which hides underneath the TOR network it is most likely the go to place of cybercriminals. Transactions within the dark web marketplaces use cryptocurrencies which is predominated by bitcoin and litecoin.


Importance of Dark Web Recovery Data

Most likely information leaked cannot be blocked nor purged, because once data spreads within the dark web it cannot be easily controlled. So, what can we do?
Recover the data through Dark Web Recovery services, because knowing which data were leaked or stolen can mitigate the damage to the company and to the people affected by various anti-fraud campaigns, and information blasts to the affected people.


Here is one example of an email found on what was emailed to the affected customers of Marriott Database breach:


Dear Valued Guest,

Marriott values our guests and understands the importance of protecting your personal information. We have taken measures to investigate and address a data security incident involving the Starwood guest reservation database. The investigation has determined that there was unauthorized access to the database, which contained guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties* on or before September 10, 2018. This notice explains what happened, measures we have taken, and some steps you can take in response.


Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident

On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database. Marriott quickly engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred. Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014. Marriott recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it. On November 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

Marriott has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but believes it contains information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property. For approximately 327 million of these guests, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences. For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates, but the payment card numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption (AES-128). There are two components needed to decrypt the payment card numbers, and at this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken. For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information.

Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation. The company is also notifying regulatory authorities.

Marriott deeply regrets this incident happened. From the start, we moved quickly to contain the incident and conduct a thorough investigation with the assistance of leading security experts. Marriott is working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information with a dedicated website and call center. We are supporting the efforts of law enforcement and working with leading security experts to improve. Marriott is also devoting the resources necessary to phase out Starwood systems and accelerate the ongoing security enhancements to our network.

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