Ind.-based hotel manager tight-lipped about breach

Money
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A major U.S. hotel operator said Monday it’s investigating a data breach that may have affected customers as far back as last March, but the company didn’t say how many people might be affected or when the breach was discovered.

A spokeswoman for White Lodging Services Corp., which owns and manages 168 hotels under various brands in 21 states, declined to answer questions about the breach, which first was reported last week by cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs. He said the breach could affect thousands of guests at Marriott hotels managed by White Lodging since March 23, 2013.

“An investigation is in progress, and we will provide meaningful information as soon as it becomes available,” White Lodging said in a statement released by spokeswoman Kathleen Quilligan.

Merrillville, Ind.-based White Lodging’s properties include hotels under various Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton brands and include more than 30 restaurants. The company has nearly $1 billion in annual revenue and nearly 9,000 employees, according to its website.

Marriott International said in a statement that “the suspected breach did not impact any systems that Marriott owns or controls,” but it was closely monitoring the situation. Marriott said White Lodging is “in close contact with the banks and credit card companies.”

A Hyatt statement said none of its five White Lodging hotels were believed to have been affected. Hilton had not released a statement as of Monday afternoon.

The breach involving credit and debit card information is the latest in a wave of cyber break-ins involving millions of customers reported during the past month.

The biggest data raid was on Target Corp., which has said hackers stole about 40 million debit and credit card numbers during the holiday season.

Michaels Stores has said it is working with authorities to investigate a possible breach, but hasn’t said how many customers might be affected. Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. recently said a security breach last year may have affected about 1.1 million cards.

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