June 27, 2012, 11:04 AM — A little over a month after the FBI warned travelers of an uptick in data being stolen via hotel Internet connections, the Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Wyndham Worldwide Corporation and three of its subsidiaries for alleged data security failures that led to three data breaches at Wyndham hotels in less than two years.
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The FTC says the repeated security failures exposed consumers' personal data to unauthorized access. Wyndham and its subsidiaries failed to take security measures such as complex user IDs and passwords, firewalls and network segmentation between the hotels and the corporate network. In addition, the defendants allowed improper software configurations which resulted in the storage of sensitive payment card information in clear readable text, the FTC stated.
According to the FTC, each Wyndham hotel has its own property management computer system that handles payment card transactions and stores information on such things as payment card account numbers, expiration dates, and security codes. According to the FTC, in the first breach in April 2008, intruders gained access to a Phoenix Wyndham-branded hotel's local computer network that was connected to the Internet and the corporate network of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Because of Wyndham's inadequate security procedures, the breach gave the intruders access to the corporate network of Wyndham's Hotels and Resorts subsidiary, and the property management system servers of 41 Wyndham-branded hotels.