CHICO, Calif.-- Security experts believe the data stolen from the Marriott hotel empire in a massive breach could be used for espionage.
Hackers stole data from about half a billion guests of former Starwood Chain Properties over four years.
The reservation system for the company could attract enemies of the state that want to learn about where military and government officials are going, said Jesse Varsalone, a University of Maryland cybersecurity expert who talked to the Associated Press.
"There are just so many things you can extrapolate from people staying at hotels," Varsalone explained.
That includes credit card and passport numbers, birthdates, phone numbers and hotel arrival and departure dates.
A local ethical hacker from Chico, William Caput, explained why it may have taken so long for the company to detect the breach - and why many in his field suspect it was about more than monetary theft.
"The thought is that they weren't using it for credit card information, but for traveler information, data mining individuals, government officials finding out where they were going, what hotels they were staying at, bugging the rooms if it got to that level," said Caput.
The New York Attorney General is investigating the breach.
Experts say the best way to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud is to change your passwords often.
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