Best Western database hack exposes info on 8m customers

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Aug 26, 2008

Hotel chain data heist latest in string of major security leaks.

The global hotel chain Best Western has had its network security breached, leading to full details of thousands of its customers being harvested and made available for sale on hacker websites. The haul of sensitive information is one of the biggest in a wave of data leakage scandals over the past few months, and the discovery followed hot on the heels of yet another example, with an archiving firm specialising in banking data found to have allowed data on thousands of bank customers to leak out, via insecure retirement of hardware.

The Best Western incident was uncovered by Scottish newspaper the Sunday Herald, whose report suggests that login codes were acquired by implanting a trojan on hotel systems, and then used to access and download customer databases. Hackers made off with as many as 8 million separate records, relating to bookings made since 2007 and including complete details of customers' home addresses, phone numbers, employment details and travel plans, in what the article aptly describes as 'a complete identity-theft kit'. The full report is at the Sunday Herald here.

A second incident, also brought to light over the weekend, involved the archiving firm Graphic Data, whose digitising services are used by many banking institutions in the UK to archive paperwork. A machine once used by the firm, sold by a former employee on eBay, was found to contain highly sensitive information, including credit check data and complete credit card application forms for customers of several firms including Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and American Express. The story was broken in the Mail on Sunday, full details are online here.

The last few weeks have been peppered with similar scandals, including the loss of data on the entire population of the UK's prison system on a memory stick, covered by The Register here. In a further example of governments being embarrassed by computer security failures, a sub-section of the US Department of Homeland Security has had its phone system cracked into, with 400 unauthorised calls to the Middle East and Asia racking up bills of $12,000. More details are in an AP piece here.

Posted on 26 August 2008 by Virus Bulletin

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