Belgium investigates 'foreign state' cyber-spying

16 September 2013 |


Federal prosecutors in Belgium are investigating concerns that its incumbent operator, Belgacom, has been subject to cyber spying from a foreign state, Reuters reports.

The company filed a complaint over suspected hacking in July this year, and investigations have narrowed down the search for an offender.

“The inquiry has shown that the hacking was only possible by an intruder with significant financial and logistic means,” federal prosecutors in Belgium said in a statement today.

“This fact, combined with the technical complexity of the hacking and the scale on which it occurred, points towards international state-sponsored cyber-espionage.”

A local newspaper has pointed a finger at the US, whose National Security Agency (NSA) was accused of collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers earlier this year.

The newspaper said that the hackers were primarily interested in BICS, which serves much of Africa and the Middle East.

“Apparently, most of the communications recorded were with numbers in Yemen, Syria and other countries that the US considers to be rogue states,” the newspaper said.

Last week, James Clapper, US director of national intelligence, said in a statement that the US does collect economic and financial information to prevent terrorist financing.

“What we do not do is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” Clapper said.

Belgacom has reportedly carried out work over the weekend to strengthen its security and confirmed that there was no indication of an impact on customers or their data.

In August this year, the Belgian government announced plans to reduce its stake in Belgacom.