- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hyatt Hotels admitted this week that it discovered malicious programs on company computers that had compromised the payment processing systems affecting hundreds of the company’s locations.

The Chicago-based hotel chain announced on Wednesday that it had discovered malware late last month and has since launched a probe, but was unsure at this point if any information had been stolen by hackers.

“Hyatt has taken steps to strengthen the security of its systems, and customers can feel confident using payment cards at Hyatt hotels worldwide,” the company said in a statement, adding that an investigation of the apparent breach was ongoing.

Stephanie Sheppard, a spokeswoman for the hotel chain, told the Associated Press that the malicious software was found on payment processing computers used by 318 of the chain’s 627 properties.

“As always, customers should review their payment card account statements closely and report any unauthorized charges to their card issuer immediately. Payment card rules generally provide that cardholders are not responsible for unauthorized charges that are timely reported,” the company said in a statement.

Hyatt’s admission this week makes the company only the latest in the hospitality industry to be affected by a breach in the wake of incidents suffered in recent months by the likes of Starwood and Trump Hotels.

Earlier this year, a lawsuit was brought against Trump Hotels on behalf of a customer whose payment information was compromised as the result of malware similarly ending up on computer computers. Attorneys for the plaintiff, John Driscoll, claimed in their suit that “the root cause of the data breach was defendants’ failure to fix elementary deficiencies in their security systems, abide by industry regulations and respond to other similar data breaches directed at retailers.”

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