Security Experts:

Mandarin Oriental Hotels Hit in Credit Card Breach

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has confirmed the credit card systems at a number of its hotels in the United States and Europe have been accessed by hackers.

The company said it has identified and removed the malware involved and is coordinating with credit card agencies, law enforcement and forensic specialists to ensure that its systems are protected. The company did not identify the specific hotels affected.

"Moreover, from the information we have to date, the breach has only affected credit card data and not any other personal guest data, and credit card security codes have not been compromised," the company stated. "Should you suspect any unauthorized activity on your card, we recommend you contact your credit card provider directly."

None of the company's hotels in Asia were impacted by the breach.

"The payment card industry has built a data security standard (the PCI-DSS) in an effort to improve the security programs of all companies that handle credit cards," said Trey Ford, global security strategist at Rapid7. "After a breach, the payment brands have a forensic investigation performed to understand how the criminals succeeded, and improve the odds of pursing the perpetrators. While the payment brands get the detailed report, the rest of the industry does not. Maybe we will see Mandarin step up and explain how exactly they were compromised, and how other organizations can prevent attackers from using the same technique."

The company defended its security posture, stating that it has "leading data security systems in place" and that the malware was undetectable by all antivirus systems.

"Guests can be confident that security protocols are being thoroughly tested at all hotels to protect guest information and prevent a recurrence of such an attack," the company stated. "While we have executed additional security protocols, we do not wish to disclose specific details of our security measures."

"I have no doubt that officials at the luxury hotel chain will say their credit card systems were PCI compliant," said Ulf Mattsson, chief technology officer of Protegrity. "Unfortunately, they have just learned the hard way that compliance does not equal security. This is a lesson provided by their counterparts at other companies that have been previously hacked. It’s important for all organizations that collect credit card and other sensitive data to not only follow PCI and privacy guidelines, but go beyond them, as they are just a baseline or minimum of acceptable security."

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