It could have been the biggest security cyberheist of all times with fears that up to eight million records being compromised as news emerged on Sunday that Best Western Hotel group central customer database had been breached.
Scotland's Sunday Herald, which came up with the exclusive story following a tip-off, said that Russian Mafia worked hand in hand with a previously unknown Indian hacker to siphon details of every customer that had slept in Best Western's 1312 European Hotels over the last 20 months by using a Trojan horse that infected a BW computer.
The info collected, according to Sunday Herald, included home addresses, phone numbers, credit card details, place of employment and other details that could potentially be used to create a new identity for any crook.
Best Western however called the accusations "unsubstantiated" and this is where it all turned murkier as Sunday Herald claimed that the data was worth more than £2.8 billion (ed : Surely no crime syndicate has this amount of money).
The CEO of Best Western Hotels GB, David Clarke, sent an email to UK Customers saying that there was a single hotel in Germany that was compromised by a virus and even this was restricted to reservations data to that hotel.
In effect, Clarke added, only 10 customers were concerned and none of them were British residents; furthermore, Best Western, he says, deletes all reservations data within seven days of their departure.
Best Western has more than 4000 hotels worldwide and the group already adheres to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS).