Fourteen Trump Hotel properties were hit by a data breach, and management announced the news on Tuesday, including those in Las Vegas, New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Guest names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers and card expiration dates were exposed.
This is the third hack to affect Trump International Hotels since May 2015, and the third to do so over an extended period of time — the first unauthorized access took place last August and the most recent hack was in March. The company last year agreed to pay $50,000 in settlements over data breaches that exposed 70,000 credit card numbers and associated names.
However, the breach originated not with the hotels, but with the Sabre Hospitality Solutions service provider that handles the luxury hotel chain’s reservations. Sabre’s reservation systems are used by nearly 32,000 properties globally. The provider first disclosed the cyberattacks in May and informed Trump Hotels of the issue on June 5. Trump Hotels’ systems themselves were not compromised.
Analysts say that hotels and other hospitality chains have become a target for hackers because they have so much personal data and credit card information across multiple properties. Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza have experienced similar breaches. Furthermore, hotels have lagged behind other businesses in cybersecurity measures to protect their networks.
But if you ask Peter Singer, a senior fellow at centrist think tank New America Foundation, Trump International Hotels weren’t just low-hanging fruit. They had cognitive value. The luxury hotel chain has been attracting a steady stream of lawmakers, lobbyists and foreign dignitaries ever since Donald Trump became President of the United States.
“Why are hackers targeting hotels? Well, because they’re a good target,” said Singer. “Then you look at Trump’s hotels, and they’re obviously a highly symbolic target. If more people are staying there in an attempt to curry favor with the government, the fishing pool of targets is certainly greater than it was prior to November.”