A group of hackers from China infiltrated computer systems of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year, possibly accessing data about the business-lobbying group’s three million members, according to a Wall Street Journal report, confirmed by FOX Business.
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The security breach marks one of the highest-level infiltration between the U.S. and Chinese hackers, which have been a regular nuisance on U.S. companies this year.
The hacking on the Chamber was believed to have occurred in the first half of last year, before the operation was quietly dismantled in May 2010.
Some 300 Internet addresses were expected to have been involved in the breach, according to the Journal, citing several sources close to the matter. The Chamber represents business and trade groups in Washington.
A spokesman from the Chamber of Commerce told FOX Business that all remarks and background information in the Journal report provided by and attributed to the Chamber are accurate.
It’s unknown how much compromised data was viewed by the hackers, however a Chamber official said internal investigations found evidence that the burglars focused on four Chamber employees who worked on Asia policy.
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Chamber officials called the scope of the attack limited and its response swift.
It believes fewer than 50 of its members were comprised, according to the Journal, including company names, key people in contact with the Chamber, as well as trade-policy documents, meeting notes, trip reports and schedules. Those people were notified.
Two people close to the matter told the Journal that hackers may have had access to the network for more than a year before the breach was discovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
One of those sources said the group behind the break-in is expected to have ties with the Chinese government, however a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said the allegation lacks proof and evidence, according to the Journal.
The Chamber is expected to have shut down the operation by destroying some computers and completely overhauling its security system. It has since heavily invested is sophisticated detection equipment so it can isolate those types of attacks more quickly.
Breaches from China have become a growing concern among U.S. officials, leading the U.S. counterintelligence chief just last month to publicly chastise China’s theft of American corporate property and economic data.
Corporate giants in the U.S. were targeted this year from hackers believed to be from China, including Google (GOOG) and Intel (INTC). Earlier this month, the United Nations was hit as well, although it's not clear what group was behind it.