The Marriott Hotels chain has been fined £18.4 million, which equals roughly $24.3 million, for a data breach that might have affected as much as 339 million guests, as per the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The company didn’t provide appropriate safety solutions, which resulted in the customer’s data being accessed by cybercriminals.
How it happened
According to the report, the attack dates back to 2014 when the Starwood Hotel group’s database was compromised by hackers leading to them losing customer information such as their names, email addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers and data related to their accounts, which they used to book rooms, such as whether they were VIP members.
In 2016, Marriott acquired the Starwood Hotel group, and the criminals still had access to all the data. They only realized that there was a leak in 2018.
Although the fine might seem like a massive sum of money, the ICO initially wanted to fine the chain £99 million, the equivalent of over $130 million.
Not only big companies
When we think of people losing their data to a big breach, we get furious. How could a company allow this to happen? With all their money and power, they could have easily prevented such a thing. What we don’t realize is that such things happen every single day to individuals, and those losses far exceed those of any commercial breach. Why, then, don’t we protect ourselves first?
What’s the problem
Public hotspots are to blame here or, to be more precise, those who take advantage of the way they work and effectively steal information from others.
When you connect to a network, you need to connect to a router first, and it will then forward the connection. That means that whatever you send or receive travels, quite literally, in the air. That means that those who know how to do it can easily intercept that data and sometimes even add something to it, compromising your device for good.
Now that the hacker sees everything, they can also add something to what you receive, therefore infecting your device. Depending on the type of that virus, it might then spread to other devices connected to the same network once you get back home or to work, for example. That creates a chain in which you might be the first link without even realizing it.
There’s a solution
Fortunately, you don’t have to stop using public networks. Despite the threats associated with them, it’s reasonably easy to protect yourself. Although you probably have something on your device to protect you from threats already present, it might not be enough as with wi-fi attacks, it’s hard, even impossible, to detect that someone is intercepting that connection. Therefore, you need to come already prepared.
Antivirus software is not enough
Antivirus software can protect you from threats that are visible on the device. With the man-in-the-middle attack, you don’t know there’s somebody spying on you, so there’s no way you can help it. That’s why you need to make yourself invisible to those individuals with a new tool unless your antivirus software offers that extra feature, which most don’t.
It’s just one extra layer of protection between you and the World Wide Web. Having this tool on your device, you can connect to a server that can be located anywhere in the world, which will then forward your connection. That means that you won’t be visible to those you might want to see what you’re up to, and it doesn’t only apply to hackers but also to your Internet service provider, or ISP for short, as well as government agencies.
Which one to choose
You can find virtually anything on the Internet. The thing is that if you look for something, you will find plenty of it. So much, in fact, that it’s sometimes hard to find the right option for you. In the top-rated VPN review on expressVPN, you will find more information on the award-winning tool.
The difference between different products can be in the locations of servers to which you can connect, the amount of data you can send and receive and so on. Some of them even offer extra features, such as data encryption, to further ensure safety. Of course, some are free, and for others, you’ll have to pay. That’s why it’s so important to understand what you need to take advantage of the best deal available.
The bottom line
With the right tools in place, you can protect yourself from every one, no matter whether they claim to have good intentions or blatantly want to steal your bank credentials. Even if you think you don’t need it as you don’t use public networks very often, it’s always good to come already prepared as you never know when you might need to stay more secure than usually.