While the news focuses on the consequences of the Marriott breach, the damage goes beyond their chain; it spreads across all industries like wildfire.
We continue to see the travel and hospitality industry as a prime target for bad actors. While we don’t yet know exactly how the Starwood systems were compromised, we do know that bad actors look to obtain valuable actionable data. Because of this, the travel and hospitality industry are ideal as they collect data from many affluent and business travelers that can be quickly monetized.
Another possible outcome is that these breaches may cause even more worry, especially when a compromise happens over a number of years; this gives a bad actor the information to understand when a traveler is away from home and execute a real-world theft. In the coming days, we will learn more about how this breach happened and what data was stolen, but unfortunately, this has become all too common across the full digital space.
This news needs to remind merchants and other companies transacting online that their systems are never entirely safe from breaches; these can happen at any time, and companies need to have their post-breach process ready. This includes the pre-emptive implementation of a stronger verification framework so they can correctly authenticate their good users despite potentially stolen credentials.
This sort of data exposure is why so many organizations – from the hospitality sector through to eCommerce companies, financial institutions, and major retailers – are layering in advanced security solutions, such as passive biometrics and behavioral analytics that identify customers by their online behavior, thus mitigating post-breach damage as hackers can’t impersonate individual behavior.
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