Additional information on the Wyndham breach

As a follow-up to the blog entry on a hack of Wyndham, a copy of their October notification sent to at least one state attorney general is now available online. That notification indicates that:

In mid-September, a WHR [Wyndham Hotels and Resorts] data center administrator detected unusual activity on one of the company servers located in Phoenix, AZ and notified the internal information security team. WHR then retained an external security forensics expert to conduct a thorough investigation, which is still continuing. Our investigation to date has confirmed that a sophisticated hacker penetrated the computer systems of one of the WHR franchised hotels and thereafter was able to create a unique file containing credit card numbers of certain WHR customers. To date, the only data elements our forensics expert has confirmed were accessed are names and credit card numbers.

The statement does not indicate precisely when the hack occurred or for how long the files were accessed.

As noted in the previous blog entry on this site, Wyndham tried to get these reports kept out of the public domain. They are not the only ones to have ever tried that, and I am pleased to see that at least some states are finding that breach reports are public records obtainable under their public records law. Here was Wyndham’s rationale/legal basis for requesting confidentiality:

At the outset, we would like to request confidential treatment for this letter and all future written and verbal correspondence related to this matter. In particular, we request that the information contained in this letter be exempt from disclosure as “information describing … [the] security of information technology infrastructure and systems.” ME. REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 1, § 402(3)(m).

If an entity provides a lot of actual detail about their security infrastructure and systems, I can understand seeking an exemption if disclosure of the details might increase their vulnerability to further attacks. But just admitting that you were hacked? I don’t think so….

About the author: Dissent

Comments are closed.