Computer Hacker

The cyberattack on the Marriott hotel chain that exposed the information of up to 500 million guests was most likely conducted by Chinese state-affiliated hackers, according to a preliminary investigation.

Unnamed government sources for the New York Times and Washington Post familiar with the investigation of the breach have said that the methods utilized by the hackers, as well as the targeted data both suggest that the attacks are linked to the Chinese Ministry of State Security. The hack itself is thought to be part of a larger intelligence-gathering campaign on the part of the Chinese government, which included the 2014 Office of Personnel Management breach.

Personal data from large-scale breaches are a primary target for state-sponsored espionage. Dmitri Alperovitch, CTO of cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, refers to the strategy as “big-data hoovering” in the New York Times article which broke the story.

“This data is all going back to a data lake that can be used for counterintelligence, recruiting new assets, anti-corruption campaigns or future targeting of individuals or organizations,” Alperovitch explained.

Chinese hacking of U.S.-based targets has been on the increase in the wake of growing tensions between the two nations in the last 18 months, signaling an unofficial end to the 2015 agreement between then-President Obama and President Xi Jinping.

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