Investigation Suggests China Was Behind Marriott Hack

December 12, 2018 - 1:29 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — The federal government believes the hack of Starwood, involving 500 million guests of the hotel chain that's now owned by Marriott, was the work of the Chinese.

According to Washington Post reporter Craig Timberg, the work may be stretching back a number of years but the investigation is ongoing.

“Right from the very beginning of this, when it broke couple of weeks ago now, they were a lot of signs that it was a nation state type attack. When criminals steal your data, they try to monetize it pretty quickly by selling stuff on the dark web; this didn't happen here,” Timberg told WCBS 880.

He notes that investigators were suspicious right away and that there were signs, such as technical signatures, which pointed to the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

The Marriott-Starwood breach exposed a broad array of data, including names, addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers and credit card numbers.

It was one of the largest breaches in history and Marriot said in a statement that it was “figuring out what occurred and how we can best help our guests.”

It’s unclear what the Chinese would want with the data collected, but Timberg explains that the information is actually quite valuable.

“Basically every traveler in the world, at some point, probably checked into one of these hotels. So that means diplomat, spies, military personnel, journalists, business executives, everybody,” Timberg told WCBS 880. He explains that with the information collected, “you can do a remarkably detailed map of the important people in the world.”  

The Chinese Ministry of State Security has denied knowing about the security breach.

However, since the investigation is still in its earliest phase, there’s not enough information for the Justice Department to begin writing indictments.

Listen to the full interview with Washington Post’s Craig Timberg for more on this story.