Marriott data breach linked to Chinese intelligence-gathering


Now, The New York Times has reported that the cyberattack was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering operation, which also targeted security clearance files of millions of American citizens, as well as major United States health insurers.

Mr. Pompeo confirmed the reporting during an interview on Fox News.

Two officials briefed on the investigation told the New York Times that the threat actors behind the breach may be linked to China's Ministry of State Security which is responsible for gathering intelligence.

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 U.S. accusations of Chinese espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

Beijing is now reeling over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei and the daughter of the company's founder, over her alleged involvement in Iran sanction violations. Both countries, you'll recall, are still locked in the makings of a tariff-fueled trade war, and the CFO of leading Chinese tech company Huawei has been arrested in Canada ahead of possible extradition to the US.

Compromised customer data included names, passport numbers, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and e-mail addresses.

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The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said investigators were particularly concerned about the data breach in part because Marriott is frequently used by the military and government agencies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is said to be investigating the Marriott hack.

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

Meanwhile, China has detained Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who now works with the global conflict research firm International Crisis Group.

This finger pointing at China comes at a time when the U.S. has said it's facing increasing amours of attacks from the pseudo-socialist nation.

In the last few months, the Justice Department has filed several charges against Chinese hackers and intelligence officials.