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White Lodging experiences its own data breach woes

A collection of hotels in major cities may have suffered a massive data breach in 2013.
A collection of hotels in major cities may have suffered a massive data breach in 2013.

Cyber security continues to pose a concern in the business world and its latest victim is the hospitality industry. A collection of major hotel chains controlled by White Lodging, an independent hotel franchise, may have inadvertently exposed its point-of-sale systems at restaurants and other White Lodging managed shops.

White Lodging manages 168  Sheraton, Marriott, Westin and Hilton hotels across many parts of the in United States. As of late January, it is unclear how many customers were affected, Krebs on Security reported. The source explained that suspicious fraud activity began popping up among hotel locations in Tampa, Louisville, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Austin on March 23, 2013.

"[T]he breach appears to have affected mainly restaurants, gift shops and other establishments within hotels managed by White Lodging — not the property management systems that run the hotel front desk computers which handle guests checking in and out," Brian Krebs wrote.

It can be difficult to maintain business continuity while an ongoing investigation is in the works, but Marriott is reportedly doing whatever it can to keep customers updates without causing further interruptions to daily tasks.

"Because the suspected breach did not impact any systems that Marriott owns or controls, we do not have additional information to provide," Marriott's statement reads. "As this impacts customers of Marriott hotels, we want to provide assurance that Marriott has a long-standing commitment to protect the privacy of the personal information that our guests entrust to us, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

It is unclear what the other hoteliers plan on doing in the face of this situation, but more information on the magnitude of this attack is likely to arise in the near future.

While increasing cyber security can decrease the likelihood of a future data breach, it may not be enough in the sophisticated world of technology. Business continuity consultants can help business owners devise a strategy or what to do after an event, reassuring customers that they shouldn't lose confidence in the organization.