An Internet security analyst works to reverse a bug.
An Internet security analyst works to reverse a bug. - 
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: A group of Russian gangsters hacked into the database of the world's largest hotel chain. Now millions of Best Western customers maybe at risk of ID theft, as Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: British press reports say that hackers penetrated Best Western's European online reservation system late last week. It's claimed they stole names, home addresses, and credit card details. Some of that data has reportedly been put up for sale on a Web site run by the Russian mafia.

The haul could include every online booking at a Best Western Hotel in Europe over the past year -- up to eight million guests.

One of them is himself a computer security expert. Professor Lachlan MacKinnon says he's very concerned about the possible theft of his identity:

Lachlan MacKinnon: It's the sort of thing that might result in them using that information to set up a fraudulent identity to be involved in illicit activities, which I would not wish myself to be associated with. That's the bit that we really have to be concerned about, when we see criminal organizations funding this kind of activity.

In a statement on its British Web site, Best Western says the reports of a security breach are grossly unsubstantiated, and there is no need for widespread concern.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.