Chinese Hackers Breach US Chamber of Commerce, Strange Activity Detected in Printers, Thermostats

 Looks like hackers based in China broke into the US Chamber of Commerce's internal files last year--including, crucially, the information of all the lobbying groups 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.

It is possible the hackers had access to the network for more than a year before the breach was uncovered, according to two people familiar with the Chamber's internal investigation.

There are suspicions that this "sophisticated" and prolonged intrusion has some connection to the Chinese government, a suspicion which Chinese officials have pooh-poohed. But even as that threat has been shut down with very little understanding of whether damage was caused, the strange signs that they are being watched continue.

Chamber officials say they haven't been able to keep intruders completely out of their system, but now can detect and isolate attacks quickly.

The Chamber continues to see suspicious activity, they say. 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, in March, a printer used by Chamber executives spontaneously started printing pages with Chinese characters.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at December 21, 2011, 4:21am

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