The personal data of Americans who’ve stayed at a Marriott–owned hotel property may have been caught up in a data sweep by the Chinese Communist regime targeting U.S. government and military officials.
US investigators are now saying China is behind the recent breach of Marriott’s Starwood Hotels data. The breach transpired over four years, and compromised personal information including names, addresses, passport numbers, and credit cards for as many as 500 million people.
Concern is heightened because US military and government officials have been frequent guests at the hotels. An anonymous official confirmed to the Associated Press the investigation is still ongoing, but there is reason to believe the hackers are affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security.
In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, multiple departments including the FBI and the Justice Department reported that China is working to steal trade secrets and intellectual property from US companies to slow development and hurt the economy.
China has been behind other breaches such as the US Office of Personnel Management breach in 2015 where the personal data of more than 20 million government employees and their family members was stolen. Priestap stated, “Every rock we turn over, every time we looked for it, it’s not only there, it’s worse than we anticipated.”
The reports comes as tensions rise between the US and China. The two countries are in a three-way international dispute that involves Canada which helped the US detain the head of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei on Dec. 1. China responded by arresting two Canadian men – an entrepreneur and a former Canadian diplomat – accusing them of “endangering national security.”
President Donald Trump has stated he is willing to get involved if it could ease tensions with China by producing a trade agreement.