Compromised customer data included names, passport numbers, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and e-mail addresses. New details are emerging from the recent Marriott hack, and fingers are being pointed at the Chinese.
The Starwood hack was publicly revealed last month, not long before the United States began a 90-day trade truce negotiated by both China and the Trump administration at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
Sources told the Times that the Chinese are using that information, combined with data stolen from the US Office of Personnel Management in 2014, Anthem, and other sources - to "root out spies, recruit intelligence agents and build a rich repository of Americans' personal data for future targeting".
Now, The New York Times has reported that the cyberattack was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering operation, which also targeted security clearance files of millions of American citizens, as well as major U.S. health insurers.
The revelation comes amid tensions between on-going tensions between the USA and China.
According to a New York Times report, cybersecurity experts in the U.S. have identified state-sponsored Chinese hackers, Beijing's civilian spy agency, as the party responsible for the data breach.
The New York Times says the US government is working on a response that includes indictments of those believed to be involved. However, according to the report, speculation about the group being responsible for the hack has been denied by Chinese officials.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that China was behind a massive theft of personal information from the world's largest hotel chain.
Passport numbers, which are not usually collected in data breaches, may have been a particularly valuable discovery for the hackers, the Post said.
Officials from the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that China is working to steal trade secrets and intellectual property from US companies in order to harm America's economy and further its own development. The U.S. requested that Canada detain Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou, of Huawei, the company founded by her father. This time it's being accused of carrying out the Marriott data breach, according to the New York Times. "We have no information about the cause of this incident, and we have not speculated about the identity of the attacker".