In what has become a disturbing scenario, computer hackers in China broke into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce computer network, primarily stealing the emails of chamber staff members involved in business with and in China. And, as usual, the Chinese government has disavowed any involvement. The long-operating hack was hushed up until the Wall Street Journal today, December 21, 2011, reported the series of incidents. PC Magazine, among others, has also reported on the incidents.

These Chinese hackers executed an exhaustive hack of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce computer network that was discovered in May 2010, gaining access to everything stored in [the] systems of the business lobbying organization, according to media reports.

The hackers might have pilfered information about the chamber's three million members in a complex infiltration that involved 300 or more Internet addresses, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing several people familiar with the matter. After being alerted by the FBI around 18 months ago that servers in China were stealing its information, the lobbying group quietly shut down the hacking operation, according to the newspaper.

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, the Journal quoted David Chavern, chief operating officer of the chamber, as saying.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. told the paper that the allegation that the attack originated in China lacks proof and evidence and is irresponsible. But a source familiar with the chamber internal investigation said the group suspected of the intrusion is one that U.S. officials suspect of having ties to the Chinese government.