December 21, 2011
US Chamber Of Commerce Quietly Shut Down Chinese Hackers
It is believed that hackers, based in China, gained access to America´s top business-lobbying group, the US Chamber of Commerce. It is not known when the initial break-in occurred but security officials from the Chamber quietly shut the breech down in May of 2010, Nicholas Wadhams of Bloomberg reports.
The hackers gained access to everything stored on its systems, including information about its three million members, and was one of the boldest known infiltrations in what has become a regular confrontation between US businesses and Chinese hackers.
The amount of compromised data viewed by the hackers was unknown, however Chamber officials found evidence that four Chamber employees, who worked on Asia policy, were specifically targeted and that six weeks worth of their email had been stolen, reports Siobhan Gorman for Fast Company.
The Chamber put a stop to the attacks by unplugging and destroying several computers and overhauling its security system.
A Chinese Embassy official, based in Washington, Geng Shuang, said cyberattacks are prohibited by Chinese law and China itself is a victim of attacks and that claims the hacking originated in China, “lacks proof and evidence and is irresponsible,” adding that the hacking issue shouldn´t be “politicized.”
Liu Weimin, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a daily briefing in Beijing that he hadn´t heard about the matter, though he repeated that Chinese law forbids computer break-ins, and added that China wishes to cooperate more with the international community in hopes of preventing further attacks.
With 450 employees, the Chamber represents the interests of US companies in the nation´s capitol and could be an information-rich target to hackers. Its members include most of the nation´s largest corporations, and the group has more than 100 affiliates around the globe.
While members are unlikely to share any intellectual property or trade secrets with the group, they sometimes communicate with it about trade and policy.
Bolstering its security, the Chamber installed more modern detection equipment and barred employees from taking the portable devices they use every day to certain countries, including China, where the risk of infiltration is considered high.
Instead, Chamber employees are issued different equipment before their trips – equipment that is checked thoroughly upon their return. Officials can now detect and isolate attacks more quickly but keeping them out completely is still not possible.
Suspicious activity is still found on a regular basis. A thermostat at a town house the Chamber owns on Capitol Hill at one point was communicating with an internet address in China, they say, and a printer used by Chamber executives spontaneously began printing pages with Chinese characters.
“It´s nearly impossible to keep people out. The best thing you can do is have something that tells you when they get in,” said Mr. Chavern, the chief operating officer. “It´s the new normal. I expect this to continue for the foreseeable future. I expect to be surprised again.”
On the Net: