Marriott data breach traced to Chinese hackers
| U.S. prepares to crackdown on Beijing

The cyber attack on the Marriott hotel group that held details of approximately 500million guests has been traced to China.

The attack was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering effort that also hacked health insurers and security clearance files of millions more Americans, according to two people briefed on the investigation.

They said the hackers are suspected of working for the Ministry of State Security. This is the country’s Communist-controlled civilian spy agency. The discovery comes as the Trump administration plans to target China’s trade, cyber and economic policies, possibly within days.

China denies cyber attack

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied any knowledge of the Marriott hacking, saying.

China firmly opposes all forms of cyberattack and cracks down on it in accordance with the law,” he said. “If offered evidence, the relevant Chinese departments will carry out investigations according to the law.

The moves include indictments against Chinese hackers working for the intelligence services and the military. This information comes from government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Trump administration also plans to declassify intelligence reports to reveal Chinese efforts dating to at least 2014. The aim is to build a database containing names of executives and American government officials with security clearances.

Other options include an executive order intended to make it harder for Chinese companies to obtain critical components for telecommunications equipment, a senior American official with knowledge of the plans said.

The moves stem from a growing concern within the administration that the 90-day trade truce negotiated two weeks ago by President Trump and President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires might do little to change China’s behaviour — including the coercion of American companies to hand over valuable technology if they seek to enter the Chinese market, as well as the theft of industrial secrets on behalf of state-owned companies.

The Marriott data breach involved the hacking of Marriott’s Starwood chain, which was discovered only in September and revealed last month, is not expected to be part of the coming indictments. But two of the government officials said that it has added urgency to the administration’s crackdown, given that Marriott is the top hotel provider for American government and military personnel.

Sources and credits: The New York Times