A band of hackers from China was able to gain access to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and retrieve information on the organization’s employees for over a year before they were discovered in May 2010, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal today.
The hackers infiltrated Chamber of Commerce systems and stole data, including emails containing the names of companies and individuals in contact with the Chamber, trade-policy documents, meeting notes, trip reports and schedules, according to people involved with the investigation, according to the report.
The breach was first exposed in May 2010 after Chamber President and Chief Executive Thomas J. Donahue returned from a trip to China. While it’s unclear just how much information was gleaned from the intrusion, Chamber officials claim that the intruders installed a series of back doors that gave them unfettered access to the system. Chamber officials say less than 50 of their employees were compromised while four of their employees who worked on Asia policy were targeted and had their emails stolen for approximately six weeks during one portion of the attack.
Following the discovery, the Chamber shut down and revamped their security over the course of a 36-hour period. According to the article however, they continue to find remnants of the attack and suspicious activity on Chamber networks. Among the irregularities: a thermostat on Capitol Hill was found communicating with an Internet address in China.
Chinese officials have denied any involvement in the breach. In an interview with the WSJ, Geng Shuang said that any claims the attacks emanated from China “lacks proof and evidence and is irresponsible.”
Tension between the U.S. and China has been rising in recent years over the issue of cybersecurity and computer intrusions. In early November, the U.S. government released a report that implies that cyber espionage from China (along with Russia) continues to be a “pervasive threat.” This of course stems from a series of China-based attacks that targeted the Gmail accounts of U.S. officials along with the Aurora attacks of late 2009.