China Hackers Hit U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: WSJ

On Dec. 21st, 2011, Siobahn Gorman reported for the Wall Street Journal on how Chinese hackers broke into the US Chamber of Commerce computer systems.  According to the article, the operation was discovered by the FBI, and was shut down back in 2010.  No one knows how long the hackers had access, or what information they took; the Chamber keeps information about its 3 million members and trade/policy communications with individual businesses, so the hackers had access to all of that.  The hacker group that perpetrated the attack has ties to the Chinese government.

The article notes that the hackers likely infiltrated the network after a very highly specialized phising attack (likely spear-phising).  The article quoted the Chamber's Chief Operating Officer David Chavern as saying "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."

These phising e-mails were so highly tailored that they referenced schedules, trip reports, meeting notes, and the names of people within companies.  I remember that the Chinese attacks on Google also relied on spear-phising.  Again, the weakest link the in the cybersecurity chain is humans.  

Oh, and it get's worse.  The article mentions that the Chinese hacked a thermostat at a Chamber townhouse in DC and used it to communicate with the internet.  Moreover, the Chinese hacked a printer used by Chamber executives, and made it start "printing pages with Chinese characters."  Are they just screwing with us now? 

The source article can be found here.


I'm sorry if I get a bit snarky, but the extent of Chinese cyber-espionage is getting absolutely ridiculous.  I can't help but laugh every time there is a new cyberattack and the Chinese embassy is asked for comment.  Every time, the Chinese come back with the same pattern response: "China itself is a victim of cyberattacks, hacking shouldn't be politicized."  I've seen that phrase 20 or 30 times in the short span I have written for this blog.  I really had to laugh when the Chinese embassy, in response to the hacking of the Chamber, said the US "lacks proof and evidence and is irresponsible."  No, we have both proof and evidence.  And there is a certain delicious irony to the perpetrator of one of the greatest intellectual property heists in modern history calling anyone irresponsible. 

I'm getting too worked up, I'm gonna get off my soapbox and go get some eggnog. 


Again, we're really looking to make this blog more of a collobrative effort.  So, has your printer started printing paper that reads "China Rules!", or has your thermostat been recently hacked? Tweet to @cyberlawblog

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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