Chinese Hackers Responsible for Marriott Data Breach

Saul Bowman
December 14, 2018

Private investigators involved in a probe into the breach had previously discovered hacking tools, techniques and procedures that were used in earlier cyberattacks that have been linked to Chinese hackers. Other hotels and health insurance companies were also targeted. This time it's being accused of carrying out the Marriott data breach, according to the New York Times.

In brief: Last month brought news that the Marriott-owned Starwood hotel chain had suffered one of the largest data breaches in history.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday told Fox News that the USA believed China masterminded the hacking, which included the theft of credit card and passport numbers over a four-year period from guests who stayed at hotels previously operated by Starwood, a brand bought by Marriott in 2016. Reporting from Reuters also cites sources close to the Marriott investigation who speculate the hackers were probably trying to gather information to fuel Chinese spying efforts rather than for some sort of financial gain.

The Trump administration has been planning to declassify U.S. intelligence reports that show China's efforts to build a database with the names of USA government officials with security clearances, the Times reported.

Beijing has denied responsibility for the attack.

Reports of Beijing's involvement in the Marriott breach comes amid mounting tensions between the USA and China over trade tariffs and cyber policies.

While China has always denied such attacks, the U.S. nevertheless keeps throwing cybersecurity shade at it, including working on hacking charges against Chinese national is claims were involved in a Chinese cyber espionage operation called "Cloudhopper".

"If offered evidence, the relevant Chinese departments will carry out investigations according to the law", it was said.

Former senior Federal Bureau of Investigation official Robert Anderson told Reuters that the Marriott case looked similar to hacks that the Chinese government was conducting in 2014 as part of its intelligence operations. Earlier this month, a top executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the behest of United States authorities who accused her of deceiving financial institutions, putting them in a position to violate sanctions against Iran. She was arrested in Canada this month at the request of United States authorities but released on bail there late Tuesday.

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