Malicious security hackers who are seemingly operating from China have launched an organised Internet based attack on the computer systems of a US Commerce Department office. Several systematic attempts have been made to infiltrate US government networks, with the apparent goal of obtaining valuable information. The attacks have been ongoing now for several weeks.

The Bureau of Industry and Security, which controls exports of commodities and technology, was affected in these attacks. Commerce Department spokesperson Richard Mills said that they had discovered a targeted effort to gain access to user accounts. The objective of these attacks has seemingly not been purely malicious in intent - the goal is to gain access to certain information. The reason for all of this is so far a mystery or has not been made known, but one thing remains clear: this is not the work of script kiddies trying to commit acts of vandalism purely for fun – this is the work of professionals.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has been forced to replace hundreds of computers and set up a new computer system in a bid to see off the attackers. So far, it is believed that no information has yet been stolen.

Worryingly, there has been some suggestion that these attacks have the sanction of the Chinese government. That claim has been made by several experts and US lawmakers, who believe that Beijing has authorised these attacks in some way.

"There are known hacker groups in China, some sponsored by the Chinese government that target specific information inside the U.S.," said Eric Sites, vice president of research and development at antivirus firm Sunbelt Software. "Some of the hackers can be very efficient, and very quick."