Chinese hackers broke into the system of the US Chamber of Commerce, gaining them access to “everything” on its network, reports the Wall Street Journal. This includes personal information about the Chamber’s more than 3 million members.
It is not clear how much data was compromised in the breach, which was discovered by the FBI in May of last year, and shut down. The hackers may have had access to the Chamber’s network for more than a year before the intrusion was uncovered. According to sources familiar with the situation, however, it appears that four Chamber employees who worked on Asia policy were the main targets of the attack. They had six weeks of emails stolen.
It is allegedly believed by authorities that the hackers have ties to China’s government. A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Geng Shuang, said the claim that the attack originated in China “lacks proof and evidence and is irresponsible,” reports WSJ. Shuang also said that hacking is illegal in China, and pointed out that the Chinese government is also a victim of cyberattacks.
The hackers reportedly “kept regular working hours,” so the Chamber was able to remedy the situation by shutting down their system, replacing compromised computers, and revamping their security system while the hackers were off-duty.
This is far from the first time China’s government has been implicated in cyberattacks against US-based entities. This year alone, China has been blamed for hacks on Google’s Gmail, two US-operated satellites, and the United Nations, among others. China has denied having a role in all of them.
A cybersecurity expert who we spoke with on background says that it is a widely known “secret” that China has an “army” of hackers that works for the Chinese government, and carries out its bidding.
“If someone owed you $2 trillion,” said our source, in reference to US debt to China, “wouldn’t you spy on them?”
[Image via karen roach/Shutterstock]