Fri, Dec 14, 2018 - Page 6 News List

US says Chinese intelligence behind Marriott hack

RISING SUN IMPLANT:McAfee reported a global effort to infiltrate at least 87 defense, energy and finance firms that seems to have originated from North Korea

AFP, WASHINGTON

The US on Wednesday said that China was behind a massive hack of data from hotel giant Marriott.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News’ Fox & Friends that the government believes China masterminded the data theft.

“They have committed cyberattacks across the world,” he said. “We consider them a strategic competitor. They are taking actions in the South China Sea. They’re conducting espionage and influence operations here in the United States.”

Washington this week is expected to unveil charges against Chinese military and intelligence hackers as it seeks to counter what is seen as Beijing’s broad-based, sustained cyberthreat against the US government and corporate targets.

It on Wednesday also slapped a US$2.8 million penalty on a Chinese energy company, Yantai Jereh Oilfield Services Group, for breaching US sanctions by shipping US-made equipment to Iran.

The Marriott hackers, who stole detailed data on about 500 million customers of the world’s largest hotel company, are believed to have been working for the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

Washington sees them as part of an espionage effort that has targeted health insurers and the US civil service employment database.

Marriott on Nov. 30 said that cyberthieves had been in the systems of its Starwood brand since 2014, which Marriott took over two years later.

It uncovered the breach in September and the FBI is understood to be investigating the matter.

In the past week, Marriott has sent out e-mails to customers who had used its systems, alerting them that their data might have been stolen.

For more than 60 percent of the customers, the data stolen included passport information, addresses, travel details and credit card details.

The company said that the credit card data was protected by two decryption components, but added: “At this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken.”

Separately, a report from computer security company McAfee said their researchers have uncovered a global effort by hackers to infiltrate the computer systems of nuclear, defense, energy and financial companies.

“In October and November 2018, the Rising Sun implant has appeared in 87 organizations across the globe, predominantly in the United States,” the company said.

Initial indications were that the hackers were North Korean, but there was the possibility that the identifiers in the malware that pointed to Pyongyang might have been a “false flag” to distract researchers from the source, it said.

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