Marriott Data Breach Part of Series of China-Backed Hacks

Dec 12, 2018

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Marriott’s recent massive data breach is part of a larger series of cyberattacks committed by Chinese government hackers, officials briefed on the investigation say.

The Marriott hack, in which the personal information of 500 million guests of the hotel’s Starwood chain was stolen over the course of four years, is part of a widespread effort of hackers experts believe are working on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, which is the nation’s spy agency. China-backed hackers have also breached US health insurers and security clearance files to steal sensitive information from millions more Americans, the New York Times reports.

In response to the broad cyberattacks, US President Donald Trump is planning to publicly condemn China for its “continued efforts to steal American trade secrets and advanced technologies and to compromise sensitive government and corporate computers,” US officials told the Washington Post. The hackers working for Chinese intelligence or military will also face indictments from the US.

Additionally, Trump’s administration is reportedly planning to declassify intelligence documents that show beginning in 2014, China has been building “a database containing names of executives and American government officials with security clearances.”

These accusations have striking similarities to the details of Marriott’s breach: It also began in 2014, and the hackers encrypted customers’ personal information, creating their own database of Starwood guests’ data. Marriott’s hack will reportedly not be part of the round of indictments, though officials told the Times that the hotel’s breach “added urgency to the administration’s crackdown, given that Marriott is the top hotel provider for American government and military personnel.”

The vast hack of Marriott’s Starwood brand data was detected in September and disclosed at the end of November.

Featured image by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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