Belgacom infrastructure hacked by Britain’s GCHQ

Brussels, 21/09/2013.  German weekly Der Spiegel reports that documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden show Britain’s GCHQ intelligence service was behind a cyber-attack on Belgacom, the partly state-owned Belgian telecoms company.

A “top secret” Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) presentation seen by the paper indicates that the goal of project, conducted under the codename “Operation Socialist,” was “to enable better exploitation of Belgacom” and to improve understanding of the provider’s infrastructure.

The presentation is undated, but another document indicates that access has been possible since 2010. The document shows that the Belgacom subsidiary Bics, a joint venture between Swisscom and South Africa’s MTN, was on the radar of the British spies.Belgacom, with customers including institutions like the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament, has ordered an internal investigation following the recent revelations about spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and determined it had been the subject of an attack.

The company then referred the incident to Belgian prosecutors. Last week, Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo spoke of a “violation of the public firm’s integrity.”

Full stories (Belgian newspaper De Standaard, in Dutch)

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