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Potential downside huge for hotel chain in hacking matter

"May I see your passport and a credit card, please?"

Hundreds of millions of people have complied with that request in recent years while checking into Marriott and Starwood hotels across the globe. Employees have dutifully input their relevant information into hotel computers.

That info is stored in-house to both fully document a current stay and have pertinent data readily on file for subsequent visits. Guests have reasonably assumed that the data is closely controlled by the Marriott chain and available for scrutiny only by company employees for stay-related purposes only.

That justified assumption has sadly proven false, and in a huge way. Information has come to light that spotlights what is reportedly "one of the largest ever" hacks of a company's proprietary computer system by criminal hackers. A recent New York Times article reports that hackers linked with the Chinese government infiltrated Marriott/Starwood systems some time back and captured personal data belonging to well more than 300 million people.

Marriott officials have formally apologized for the information breach.

For many former guests, that's not enough. A litigation queue has formed, with a strong likelihood that multiple lawsuits seeking damages for cybersecurity lapses could soon be incoming for the large hotel chain. Litigation activity has already been on the upswing in Canada, with at least three class-action filings commenced by plaintiffs whose personal data was compromised at Starwood hotels.

Businesses everywhere - including diverse entities all across Ohio - are subjected to heightened liability and litigation risks these days, with new challenges in the cybersecurity realm being a notable case in point.

Questions or concerns regarding commercial challenges and risks, as well as appropriate strategies for addressing them, can be addressed to attorneys at a proven commercial law firm.

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