“Our internal servers were not part of this breach, and we have taken — and will continue to take — all appropriate steps to ensure that our members have the ability to support public policy organizations free from intimidation,” spokesman Wesley Denton said in a statement.
This is not the first time the Heritage Foundation has been the target of hackers. A spokesman for the group told USA Today in 2012 that it had fended off an attack it believed originated in China.
U.S. think tanks and foreign policy experts are seen as valuable targets for cyber surveillance. They offer a window into U.S. policymaking and strategy, as well as possible access to sensitive information about Washington influencers.
In February, the Urban Institute, a prominent D.C. think tank, revealed that its system for filing tax forms was breached.
Hackers accessed usernames, passwords, IP addresses and other account data for nonprofits that use the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics to file their taxes. Overall, between 600,000 and 700,000 organizations were impacted by the breach.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the American Enterprise Institute have also publicly acknowledged being hacked.
Beijing is believed to be behind many of the hacks on think tanks. The group known as “Deep Panda,” which is suspected to be responsible for the hit on Anthem earlier this year, launched a series of attacks targeting Middle East experts at think tanks around Washington in 2014.
The Heritage Foundation has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s approach to cybersecurity, publishing a piece in late July headlined: “How Obama’s poor judgment led to the Chinese hack of OPM.”