Nov 30, 2018

Behind the Marriott breach's "500 million affected" tally

Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Starwood Preferred Guest

Marriott announced Friday that up to 500 million people might be affected by a data breach of the Starwood properties guest reservation system. But it's harder than ever today to interpret a first estimate —"up to 500 million" could mean 500 million, nearly five hundred million, or substantially less.

The big picture: The new privacy law in the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requires companies to notify government agencies about breaches almost immediately. Gone are the days where a company can do a full investigation before announcing a breach, and that means most are likely to overestimate until better facts come in.

500 million guests: Marriott has an advantage in trying to figure out who was affected in the breach since the company found the database of information hackers were compiling to steal, and it first decrypted the database 11 days ago.

  • But, as the press release notes, "The company has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database." That would be important, because there are people who have stayed at Starwood hotels more than once.

Between the lines: GDPR only took effect this year and there have been few breaches of this potential size in history, meaning there is virtually no comparable instance to help gauge how the 500 million number might change.

  • Remember, breach estimates have been wrong in the other direction before, too. Equifax repeatedly had to revise the number of people affected by its breach upward by millions.

The bottom line: Whether the number shrinks, grows or stays the same, the best advice is this: If you've stayed at a Starwood property, assume you were affected until you can confirm otherwise.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,187,798 — Total deaths: 64,084 — Total recoveries: 245,949Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 301,902 — Total deaths: 8,175 — Total recoveries: 14,505Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus. America's small business bailout off to bad start.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,000 in the U.S. on Saturday afternoon, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: As expected, COVID-19 death tolls are rising in the U.S. The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread, marking a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Spain tracks more cases than Italy

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Spain overtook Italy in its number of coronavirus cases on Saturday. The global death toll has surpassed 62,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: About half the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Fatalities are exponentially increasing across Europe, with roughly half of deaths worldwide located in Italy and Spain.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health