Marriott Hack Could Boost Tensions Between U.S., China

According to a New York Times report, the hackers that penetrated the hotel chain’s reservation database did so on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, the civilian-run spy agency.

by Rex Crum, The Mercury News / December 12, 2018

(TNS) — Relations between the United States and China may be about to get even more tense following a report that the recent hacking attack stole the information of up to 500 million guests of Marriott International’s Starwood hotel chain.

According to the New York Times, the hackers that broke into Marriott’s systems are said to have worked on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, which is the nation’s civilian-run spy agency. The Times said that two people affiliated with investigation said that the attack was part of a widespread effort by Chinese agents to gain personal data such as credit card numbers and passport information of American citizens.

The attack on the Marriott’s Starwood chain was discovered in September, then publicly disclosed last month. Chinese officials denied knowing anything about the hacking being done on behalf of any government agency, according to the Times.

The Marriott security breach may add more ammunition to President Donald Trump’s efforts to get China to crack down on cyber crime involving the theft of U.S. technology and the countries’ economic policies with regard to trade with the United States.

Earlier this month, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a 90-day truce in their trade dispute so the two sides could work on an agreement to avoid new tariffs and an escalated trade war. Trump has threatened to raise tariffs by 10 percent on numerous goods made in China that are imported into the U.S. Fears of a trade war heating up between the U.S. and China have been one of the major sources driving down investor sentiment on Wall Street in recent weeks.

©2018 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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