I’m always looking forward to my next vacation. Traveling to a new city and experiencing the local cuisine and culture is exciting.
The last thing you want to worry about during a trip is the security of your credit or debit cards. Unfortunately, that’s the position millions of travelers have just been put into involuntarily. A major hotel chain has confirmed a massive breach that may have put your banking information into the hands of cybercriminals.
Which hotels were impacted?
We’re talking about the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). It’s the parent company for over 5,000 hotels all over the world, including Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Kimpton Hotels, Even Hotels and Hotel Indigo.
Over 1,200 IHG-branded franchise hotel locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been hit with payment card-stealing malware. Anyone who stayed at an affected property between September 29, 2016, and December 29, 2016, may have had their payment information stolen.
The company didn’t confirm the malware was removed from its payment system until March 2017. So, in reality, the breach was most likely ongoing through that time.
Here’s what was stolen
Stolen information includes cardholders’ names, card numbers, expiration dates and internal verification codes. The malware stole this data from the card’s magnetic strip as it was being routed through the impacted hotel’s server. IHG said the number of affected customers is unknown.
If you traveled over the impacted timeframe, you can find out if the hotel you stayed at was part of the breach. You can look up the property listings set up by IHG that lets you search for your hotel. Once there, select the country in which you stayed, then the state or province, then choose the city.
After entering this information, affected properties in the selected city appear. If the hotel you visited is on the list, your financial data may have been stolen.
IHG is telling affected customers to look over their bank statements dating back to September 2016. If you find unauthorized transactions, you need to report them to your bank ASAP.
Beyond that, you should follow some other security procedures.
How to protect your accounts after a data breach
- Keep an eye on your bank accounts. You should check your bank statements frequently for suspicious activity. If you see any transactions you don’t recognize, report them immediately.
- Set up two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, means that to log into your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It’s like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
- Investigate your email address. Have I Been Pwned is an easy-to-use site with a database of information hackers and malicious programs have released to the public. It monitors hacker sites and collects new data every five to 10 minutes about the latest hacks and exposures.
- Change your password. Whenever you hear news of a data breach, it’s a good idea to change your account passwords. Read this article to help you create hack-proof passwords.
- Close unused accounts. Here’s an easy way to manage all your online accounts at once.
- Beware of phishing scams. Scammers will try and piggyback on huge breaches like this. They’ll create phishing emails pretending to be from one of the affected hotels, hoping to get victims to click on malicious links that could lead to more problems. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
- Manage your passwords. Many people use the same username and password on multiple sites. This is a terrible practice. If you’re using the same credentials on multiple sites, change them to make them unique. If you have too many accounts to remember, use a password manager.