Radisson breach affects N. American guests
The Associated Press has an item about Radisson Hotels & Resorts notifying guests of a breach that involved their credit card numbers. And I see that on Radisson’s site, they have posted a letter to guests:
Radisson values your business and respects the privacy of your information, which is why we wish to inform you that between November 2008 and May 2009, the computer systems of some Radisson® hotels in the U.S. and Canada were accessed without authorization. This unauthorized access was in violation of both civil and criminal laws. Radisson has been coordinating with federal law enforcement to assist in the investigation of this incident. While the number of potentially affected hotels involved in this incident is limited, the data accessed may have included guest information such as the name printed on a guest’s credit card or debit card, a credit or debit card number, and/or a card expiration date.[…]
They have also posted an FAQ on the incident. The FAQ indicates that they have not yet determined the full scope of the breach in terms of which hotels and which guests are affected, and that they learned of the breach through the credit card companies:
How did Radisson learn about the unauthorized access [hacking/security breach]?
We became aware of the unauthorized access through information provided by payment card companies (Visa, MasterCard, etc), and our payment card processors.
Stephen Wilson Lockstep - August 19, 2009
Unless the internal networks are fragmented between hotels, it’s not obvious that a breach like this can be isolated for sure to just one part of a global hotel network.
But setting that concern aside, hotels with booking systems and databases surely represent a cornucopia for identity thieves, far richer than ordinary merchants holding credit card information. For a hotel will often also collect airline membership details, driver licences and – worst of all – passport numbers (in Asian hotels at any rate).
[From a PCI compliance perspective, hotels are complicated. They have to safeguard credit card numbers for longer than most merchants, in order to hold a booking, and to make sure they can charge for incidentals disovered after the guest has checked out.]
And the hotel environment throws up a threat vector far worse than war-driving, or the SQL injection attacks evidently used by the Soupnazi hacker Albert Gonzales: the inside job! It’s more than likely that many thousands of itinerant hotel workers all over the world have the opportunity to sneek into an administration office after hours, break into the network, and find their way into the central databases.
Stephen Wilson, Lockstep.