By Maurits Elen
Chinese hackers gained acces to one of the most heavenly guarded databases in the US and obtained everything stored on its systems. The stolen data includes information regarding the interests of many US businesses and trade associations, according to information just released by the US Chamber of Commerce.
The infiltration by Chinese hackers into the Chamber already took place in November 2009, but was only to be discovered in May 2010 when the FBI became wise of the espionage and alerted the Chamber.
Hackers are suspected to have infiltrated the system by sending out a so called ”spearphishing attack”, which allowed the hackers to sneak into the system, obtain passwords, and eventually gain administrator level clearance. After setting up a few back doors, they could then access the system whenever they pleased.
And access it they did. An investigation set up by the Chamber found multiple computers to be communicating with computers in China, and hackers are believed to have lifted emails, trade-policy documents, meeting notes, trip reports and schedules from numerous Asia policy experts.
The group’s chief operating officer, David Chavern, in a statement to Wall Street Journal.
“What was unusual about it was that this was clearly somebody very sophisticated, who knew exactly who we are and who targeted specific people and used sophisticated tools to try to gather intelligence.”
Even up to the present, almost two years after the attack was spotted and the Chamber overhauled their network security, investigators are still discovering things like a remotely-accessed thermostat in the building, or printers that start spitting out Chinese characters.
In reponse to the accussations Chinese Embassy spokesman Geng Shuang emphasized that the hacking shouldn’t be politicised. Geng also stated the allegations are lacking proof and that it is irresponsible for the US to link the particular events with China.
Last year the Chinese government arrested 469 hackers in a move to clamp down hacking in China, but ignored accusations that the Chinese government backed hackers to attack foreign companies and governments including the US Pentagon, Microsoft, Dell and most famously Google.
Read more about hacking on Shanghaiist here.