Remember the Mariott hack that happened? Of course, you do, it just happened a few days back and left 500 million users’ data exposed. Well, it looks like it was part of a large Chinese spy attack. This is according to a report by the New York Times.
This data breach was part of a massive data gathering cyber attack which is state sponsored by China and was carried on by China‘s spy agency, the Ministry of State Security. So these are scary times that we see ourselves in, once again. Cyber war between China and US is imminent it seems, and relations between the two countries couldn’t be tenser.
The Mariott hack took place in September but was revealed to the media just recently. Several US security agencies noted the pattern used in this attack. They confirmed that the code and patterns used in the attack were similar to the ones used by Chinese hackers before.
China was quick to deny all allegations. Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said,
“China firmly opposes all forms of cyberattack and cracks down on it in accordance with the law. If offered evidence, the relevant Chinese departments will carry out investigations according to the law.”
According to NYT, the attack served many purposes, and everyone one of them is malicious and with ill-intent. The attack was meant to gather information n US citizens, gather evidence on US spies and extract data that can be used for counter-intelligence.
Starwood is the world’s largest hotel chain and is frequently used by military officials and the American government. Close to 327 million guests’ passport information was leaked. This is a massive blunder given such high-security officials use the hotel chain.
The hackers have so much information at their hands. They can track “which Chinese citizens visited the same city, or hotel, as an American intelligence agent who was identified in data taken from the Office of Personnel Management or from American health insurers that document patients’ medical histories and Social Security numbers.”
This is the first time in 4 years that such a massive security breach was carried out. In 2014 19.7 million background investigation forms were accessed by Chinese hackers. There is also the issue of trade ties possibly being cut off altogether.
Huawei CFO Meng Wenzhou was detained on behalf of misleading banks about Huawei’s connections with a company suspected of breaching US sanctions on exports to Iran. Each fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
She was freed on bail set at 7.5 million dollars. This is terrible for US-China ties, but there could be some legitimate reasons behind the arrest. The US will have to bring forth thorough proof of these claims, within the next sixty days.
Trump administration tried to mend the ties somewhat by holding a meeting in Buenos Aires. It seems the ninety-day deal they made will be of little use, given how bad the circumstances have gotten. The world will be watching closely how all this pans out.