Chinese hackers behind massive Marriott breach

Chinese spies reportedly behind massive Marriott hack

The recent data breach affecting millions of guests of the Marriott hotel chain was reportedly the work of a Chinese cyberespionage campaign, officials have claimed.

Federal investigators believe the hack, which began in 2014, was conducted by people working for China's Ministry of State Security.

If investigators confirm that China was behind the attack, that could complicate already tense relations between Washington and Beijing, amid an ongoing tariff dispute and USA accusations of Chinese espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

Meng, Huawei's Chief Financial Officer, was picked up on a USA warrant on December 1 and has been granted bail pending extradition hearings.

The revelation of suspected involvement by China comes amid heightened tension with the US over trade; the arrest in Canada on an American warrant of a top executive of Chinese electronics giant Huawei; and alarm among law enforcement officials about Chinese efforts to steal technology to bolster its growing economy.

According to the Times, the Department of Justice will soon announce indictments against Chinese hackers.

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The hackers are suspected of working for the Ministry of State Security, the country's intelligence agency, The New York Times and the Washington Post reported Tuesday night. The Marriott data not only included credit card information, but passport data, as well.

The hack exposed data from approximately 500 million Marriott and Starwood hotel customers.

"China firmly opposes all forms of cyberattack and cracks down on it in accordance with the law".

"Our primary objectives in this investigation are figuring out what occurred and how we can best help our guests", Marriott spokesperson Connie Kim said.

Cyber-security expert Jesse Varsalone, of University of Maryland University College, said the Marriott hack given its length and the information stolen, showed signs of the involvement of a foreign intelligence agency. "We have no information about the cause of this incident, and we have not speculated about the identity of the attacker".

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