Clues to Marriott data breach suggest China ties, report says

Private investigators found clues that suggest the Chinese government could have something to do with Marriott’s data breach.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Techhnews

Chinese intelligence could have been involved in the data breach that affected 500 million guests who have made reservations with hotels under Marriott’s Starwood division, Reuters reported today.

Private investigators involved in a probe into the breach discovered hacking tools, techniques and procedures that were used in earlier cyberattacks that have been linked to Chinese hackers, according to the publication which cited anonymous sources.

These clues suggest Chinese hackers could have orchestrated a campaign with the intention of harvesting data for Beijing’s espionage efforts, said the unnamed sources, though someone else could also have launched the attack because some of the same hacking tools were made accessible online previously.

Given it’s been four years since the hack was launched in 2014, investigators believe there may have been more than one hacking group inside Starwood’s computer networks at the same time, making it harder to identify the culprit, added one of the sources.

The data breach at Marriott which puts at risk personal information such as credit numbers, names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email address, passport numbers and other sensitive data is one of many that have come to light in recent days. They include the Cathay Pacific hack that affected 9.4 million people, as well as one at Facebook that put the data of 50 million users at risk. Concerned, lawmakers on Capitol Hill urged Congress to pass data privacy and security protections to safeguard sensitive consumer information just hours after Marriott announced its data breach on Friday.

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