Stayed at Marriott worldwide? China's Ministry of State Security has your profile

Hacker-Reuters

Less than a month since Marriott International's Starwood hotel chain announced that a major data breach had affected 500m customers, it now seems that some progress has been made tracking down the source of the leak.

Some U.S. intelligence officials believe that the breach was conducted to enrich the massive Chinese data sets on U.S. and other citizens that have been amassed for years, the people said.

A new report says Chinese spies are behind the data hack that exposed the information of more than 500 million Marriott Hotel customers.

The Starwood hack was publicly revealed last month, not long before the U.S. began a 90-day trade truce negotiated by both China and the Trump administration at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

The official said investigators were particularly concerned about the data breach because Marriott is used frequently by the USA military and government agencies.

The hack into Marriott's Starwood is part of Chinese intelligence-gathering efforts that also hacked into health insurers and security clearance files of millions of Americans, The New York Times reports.

China has reportedly been trying to build a database containing United States government officials' personal information.

The report notes that United States intelligence agencies have not yet completed their investigation into the Marriott hack and nailed down who is responsible, but "a range of firms brought in to assess the damage quickly saw computer code and patterns familiar to operations by Chinese actors".

OH LOOK, CHINA IS BEING BLAMED for cyber attacks again. The recent arrest of Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada is complicating the story further. This time it's being accused of carrying out the Marriott data breach, according to the New York Times.

Priscilla Moriuchi of Recorded Future, an East Asia specialist who left the National Security Agency last year after a 12-year career, cautioned that no one has put out any actual data or indicators showing Chinese state actor involvement in the Marriott intrusion.

Marriott acquired Starwood, which includes such brands as Sheraton, W Hotels and St. Regis, in 2016. "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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