Hotels Face Credit Card Data Security Breach

Recent Incidents Reignite Push for More Secure Cards

By Paul Riegler on 1 February 2014
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DSC_0572White Lodging, a company that operates hotel franchises Marriott, Hilton, and Starwood Hotels, among others, is the latest to be a victim of online theft of customer data.  Other recent attacks have involved companies as varied as Target and Neiman Marcus.

White Lodging, which manages dozens of hotels in the U.S., said it was investigating the breach, which was first reported by security blogger Michael Krebs on Friday.

In a prepared statement, White Lodging said that “an investigation is in progress.” Marriott, which also issued a statement, acknowledged “unusual fraud patterns in connection with [White Lodging’s] systems that process credit card transactions at a number of hotels across a range of brands, including some Marriott-branded hotels.”

The blog reported that the breach did not affect the computers that the hotels use to check guests in and out of rooms and charge their credit cards, as those systems are run by Marriott, but rather ancillary systems that are used for gift shop and restaurant purchases at the properties.

The recent spate of credit card security woes has many calling for more secure credit cards such as the EMV cards used in Europe and elsewhere.

EMV cards, also known as smart cards, have an embedded microprocessor that contains the information the card needs to use to complete a transaction as well as manage various security tasks. While they are already the standard across the globe, issuers in the United States have been slow to offer them.



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