It has been discovered that the computer defenses of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America's top business-lobbying group, were breached by a group of hackers in China back in May 2010. The hackers gained access to everything stored in the systems of the powerful lobbying group, as well as information on its close to 3 million members. The Wall Street Journal reports:
"The break-in at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the boldest known infiltrations in what has become a regular confrontation between U.S. companies and Chinese hackers. The complex operation, which involved at least 300 Internet addresses, was discovered and quietly shut down in May 2010.
It isn't clear how much of the compromised data was viewed by the hackers. Chamber officials say internal investigators found evidence that hackers had focused on four Chamber employees who worked on Asia policy, and that six weeks of their email had been stolen."
The Journal reports that hackers possibly had access to the network for more than a year before they were discovered, and people familiar with the Chamber's internal investigation tell the newspaper that it is said that some in the group have ties to the Chinese government.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin dismissed the report.
"There's nothing to be said about the baseless whipping up of so-called hacking and it won't come to anything," he told a daily news briefing in Beijing. "Chinese law bans hacking."
Reuters notes that the emails revealed the names of companies and key people in contact with the Chamber, as well as trade-policy documents, meeting notes, trip reports and schedules. In August, the Pentagon warned Congress that hacking from China could one day be used for overt military means. This past November the U.S. military announced that it is prepared to respond to cyber threats against the country and its infrastructure, as it would to any other threat on ground, sea or air.