China-based hackers rifled the computer networks of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, stealing a large amount of confidential emails and documents in what a person familiar with the investigation described as a major security breach of the largest U.S. business lobbying group.
The attack, which occurred in 2010, is part of a recent wave of China-based espionage directed at U.S. companies, business associations and lobbying groups involved in trade policy associated with China, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the matter isn't public.
In November, the National Association of Manufacturers was attacked by hackers who targeted the computers of four executives who regularly communicate with members of Congress on trade policy.
An initial security review suggested that the ultimate target may have been the chief executive officers of NAM member companies, which include large U.S. manufacturing firms doing business in China, according to Jeff Colburn, NAM's vice president of information technology.
The Chamber on Wednesday said that communications with less than 50 of its members were affected by the attack and that the organization has undertaken a lengthy investigation. Though the members were notified, the Chamber said it hasn't seen evidence of harm to the organization or its members.
Chamber officials said they became aware of the intrusion when they were notified by federal law enforcement authorities.