The massive Marriott data breach which exposed the personal information of as many as 500 million guests of the Marriott hotel chain is believed to have its origin in China. Marriott announced the data breach on late last month.
However, no information about the source of the hack, which included the theft of credit card and passport numbers over four years from guests who stayed at hotels previously operated by Starwood, has yet been announced. Marriott acquired Starwood back in 2016.
During an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US believed China is the masterminded behind the Marriott data breach.
“They have committed cyber attacks across the world,” Pompeo said on Fox’s Fox & Friends programme, referring to China, reported Aljazeera. “We consider them a strategic competitor. They are taking actions in the South China Sea. They’re conducting espionage and influence operations here in the United States.”
On Tuesday, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that investigators suspect the hackers were working on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security.
The official said investigators were concerned about the data breach as Marriott is frequently used by the US military and government agencies.
The suspicion of China’s involvement in the Marriott data breach theft is expected to heightened rivalry between the US and China over trade, geopolitics, and technology. The Donald Trump led administration has accused the Chinese government of stealing trade secrets and intellectual property from U.S. companies.
The two countries are currently following a 90-day ceasefire agreement announced during the G20 summit talks in Buenos Aires. As part of the agreement, the US government won’t increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent on January 1, while China will buy a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance.