Security Experts:

Google Employees Hit by Sabre Breach

Google has notified some employees that their personal information may have been compromised as a result of the data breach suffered by travel technology firm Sabre.

Sabre informed customers in early May that it had launched an investigation after detecting unauthorized access to its SynXis Central Reservation System, a rate and inventory management product used by more than 32,000 hotels worldwide.

The company said the hackers had managed to access personally identifiable data, payment card details and other information. An investigation revealed that the attackers gained access to the system after hijacking an internal account on the SynXis platform.

In a letter sent out to affected employees, Google said it learned of the breach on June 16 from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), one of the companies used by the tech giant to book business travel and one of the many organizations that uses the SynXis product. Google pointed out that the breach did not impact its own systems.

Google told employees their name, contact information and payment card details may have been stolen by attackers, who had access to the reservations system between August 10, 2016 and March 9, 2017.

“Sabre’s investigation discovered no evidence that information such as Social Security, passport, and driver’s license numbers were accessed,” Google said. “However, because the SynXis CRS deletes reservation details 60 days after the hotel stay, we are not able to confirm the specific information associated with every affected reservation.”

Google has decided to offer affected employees two years of identity protection and credit monitoring services.

Sabre has yet to provide an update on this incident. The company has alerted law enforcement and payment card issuers, and contracted Mandiant to assist its investigation.

UPDATE. Sabre told SecurityWeek it has completed its investigation into this incident and determined that payment card data was accessed only for a “limited subset of hotel reservations” processed through the SynXis system. According to the company, a large percentage of bookings were made without a security code and using virtual card numbers.

Other personal information was not compromised and there was no evidence that other systems were affected. Sabre also noted that its forensic investigation uncovered no evidence of data being removed from the system by the hacker, but the company admits it’s a possibility.

Sabre stated, “Not all of our SHS customers had reservations that were accessed, and even for those that did have reservations that were viewed, it varied with regard to the percentage of reservations that were accessed. We have engaged Epiq Systems to provide complimentary consumer notice support for those customers that determine they have a notification obligation. The data submitted to the SHS reservation system varied, as well as the geographic locations of both our customers and their respective guests, so we have worked to provide those Sabre customers that had reservations that were viewed with all available information to evaluate their affected reservations and customer lists.”

The company has set up a consumer website related to the affected reservations.

UPDATE 07/14/2017: Contrary to what Google’s letter says, CWT claims it does not use Sabre’s reservation system. The company has provided the following statement to SecurityWeek:

“CWT was informed by Sabre, that some traveler data had been viewed by an outside party due to a breach of Sabre’s Hospitality Solutions / SynXis Central Reservation system (“SHS”), which provides reservations technology and support to hotels.

SHS is not a CWT technology platform or a solution used by CWT.

CWT has proactively notified potentially impacted customers and encouraged them to visit the Sabre microsite (which includes call center details).”

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.