Marriott, a global hotel chain, recently confirmed a data breach which resulted in personal information of more than 500 million guests being exposed. An investigation has since been underway and according to a new report, the hackers have been traced back to China. The hack is said to be part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering.
Citing two people briefed on the investigation, the New York Times reports that the Marriott hack was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering effort which also hit health insurers and the security clearance files of millions of Americans. The source says that the hackers are suspected to be working on behalf of the Ministry of State Security, China’s civilian spy agency.
The Marriott hack was discovered in September this year and was disclosed by the hotel chain last month. It has caused concern among the highest circles in the United States given that Marriott is the top hotel provider for the American government and military personnel. The data that was leaked includes passport information as well which would be valuable in keeping an eye on who is crossing between borders and what they look like.
American intelligence agencies have reportedly not reached a final conclusion on which group performed the hacking. However, assessment of the code shows that it’s familiar with earlier operations by Chinese hackers.
China has denied any involvement in the hack. Geng Shuang, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said that “China firmly opposes all forms of cyberattack and cracks down on it in accordance with the law,” adding that “If offered evidence, the relevant Chinese departments will carry out investigations according to the law.”