Threatwatch

Belgium telco bugged, and virus’s fingerprints point to NSA

Cyber espionage; Network intrusion

Reports say the complexity of the code suggests the entity that hacked into Belgacom’s systems was the National Security Agency or one of its partners.

Belgacom said the virus infected “a few tens” of company servers and workstations, but not telecommunications networks.

“However, De Standaard‘s sources revealed a couple further details that don’t quite fit with the official statement. According to that report, the attackers hacked into at least two years of international phone traffic (I’m not sure whether that means metadata or actual voice traffic) with the intrusion being discovered in June this year. They were also apparently very interested in Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS), the firm’s joint venture with Swisscom and South Africa’s MTN,” Gigaom writes.

That and other reports say the attacker was most likely the NSA or Britain’s GCHQ. It is also believed the hackers were after traffic from countries such as Syria and Yemen.

BICS is one of the outfits behind the cables that run from Europe through North Africa and the Middle East to Singapore and beyond. 

ThreatWatch is a regularly updated catalog of data breaches successfully striking every sector of the globe, as reported by journalists, researchers and the victims themselves.

sector

Telecommunications

reported

September 16, 2013

reported by

GigaOM

number affected

Unknown

location of breach

Belgium

perpetrators

Nation State

location of perpetrators

Unknown

date breach occurred

Since 2011

date breach detected

Unknown