U.S. officials say the Chinese government was behind the massive Marriott data breach that came to light a couple of weeks ago.
During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed China was "conducting espionage and influence operations here in the United States" and confirmed the Marriott hack was part of these efforts. It was in late November when the hotel chain reported a data breach that affected 500 million of its customers. The cyberattack, which is believed to have started in 2014, exposed personal information like mailing and email addresses, credit card information, and phone and passport numbers.
Company officials did not immediately identify the source of the breach; however, subsequent news reports pointed to Chinese hackers who were allegedly working on the behalf of the Ministry of State Security. Investigators involved in the probe reportedly discovered hacking techniques and procedures that were utilized in other cyberattacks previously attributed to Chinese hackers. According to The New York Times, multiple unidentified U.S. officials confirmed the Trump administration is planning to announce indicts against the alleged perpetrators, and will also declassify intelligence reports that confirm China's hacking efforts against the U.S. and other nations.
"[Chinese hackers] have committed cyberattacks across the world," Pompeo told Fox News on Wednesday. "Our effort, from Department of Homeland Security and the FBI and the State Department, is to push back against these threats to America from China. Trade is a component of that to be sure. The President is very focused on making sure Americans get a chance to sell their products into China. It’s a big market, and the President is determined to get a level playing field for American businesses."
Pompeo's statements arrive amid tense trade talks between the U.S and China. President Donald Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese-made products if the countries failed to reach a trade agreement within the coming months.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressed the hacking allegations with the Times.
"China firmly opposes all forms of cyberattack and cracks down on it in accordance with the law," he said. "If offered evidence, the relevant Chinese departments will carry out investigations according to the law."