Mark this down as yet another in the seemingly endless parade of successful hacking attacks of high-profile targets. Recently, Starwood Hotels was hit, and hit hard. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is the owner of high end hotels and resorts like Sheraton and Westin. If you’ve stayed at any of these in the US or Canada, the credit or debit card you used to pay for the room could be at risk. The company reports that its POS (Point of Sale) systems at more than fifty locations was infected with malware, which allowed the hackers to collect enough credit card data (name, credit card number, security code, and expiration date) to begin using them illicitly. In short, you are at risk.
You can get the complete listing of impacted hotels here and see the company’s official press release on the matter here. Starwood reports that since discovering the breach, they’ve removed the malware and stepped up security, but these are all after-the-fact measures. While comforting, it amounts to too little, too late for the people who have had their card information stolen.
The number and sophistication of attacks against corporate servers continues to increase, underscoring yet again, just how important data security is. 2015 was a record setting year for high profile hacks, and unfortunately 2016 will probably be even worse. If you’ve been putting off making upgrades to system security at your company, don’t delay longer. Take a cue from the biggest names in the tech industry, and beef up security as much as you can. Microsoft, for example, is spending a billion dollars in an ambitious effort to tighten security across the board. If they’re spending a billion, shouldn’t your company be spending at least something?
The signs are hard to miss, and it’s clear at this point that the hackers aren’t playing around. They’re getting better and better at what they do, which puts your company at ever greater risk. The longer you put off making serious investments in your system’s security, the more likely you are to be the next headline we read about.