The Latest: US suspects China in Marriott data breach

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on cyber threats from China (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Investigators believe hackers working on behalf of China’s main intelligence agency are responsible for a massive data breach involving the theft of personal information from as many as 500 million guests of the Marriott hotel chain.

That’s according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation, who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing investigation.

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The official says investigators suspect the hackers were working on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, based on. The official says investigators are particularly concerned about the breach in part because Marriott is frequently used by military and government officials.

The hack included the theft of credit card and passport numbers over four years from guests who stayed at hotels previously operated by Starwood.

— Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington

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11:20 a.m.

National security officials say cyber threats from China and its theft of intellectual property from American companies pose large economic and national security challenges for the United States.

Officials from the Justice Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security told the Senate Judiciary Committee that China is working to steal trade secrets and intellectual property from U.S. companies in order to harm America’s economy.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers says, “We cannot tolerate a nation that steals the fruit of our brainpower.”

Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, says federal officials are doing everything they can to convey the current threat to business leaders and government officials.

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