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Tue Sep 17, 2013, 08:19 PM Sep 2013

Major Belgian telco targeted by a foreign state, Brussels says

Belgium’s largest telecom, Belgacom, was hacked for at least a few years, according to national newspaper De Standaard.

The paper wrote on Monday that “everything suggests” (Google Translate) that the culprit was the National Security Agency (NSA). De Standaard reports that after an internal security check in June 2013, technicians found an “unknown virus” that had been installed across a “few dozen computers," and that the malware seemed to be targeting traffic on Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS), a subsidiary that works primarily with other telcos in the Middle East and Africa.

How long was the malware present on majority-state-owned Belgacom’s systems? "We have no idea,” Belgacom CEO Didier Bellens told reporters (Google Translate) in Brussels on Monday.

However, Belgacom itself and the Belgian government are being a bit more cagey about who they suspect. "If this hypothesis of cyber-espionage is confirmed, the government will firmly condemn this intrusion and violation of a public company's integrity," Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo wrote in a statement (Google Translate). "The goal of intrusion wasn't sabotage, but collection of strategic data."

"The inquiry has shown that the hacking was only possible by an intruder with significant financial and logistic means," the Belgian state prosecutor told Reuters, declining to name a specific country. "This fact, combined with the technical complexity of the hacking and the scale on which it occurred, points towards international state-sponsored cyber espionage."

Belgacom isn't pointing fingers either. “We cannot comment on this, it is up to the Federal Prosecutor’s investigation to bring clarity on this,” the telecom firm wrote.


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