EU government telco provider was subjected to major attack

Malware was so sophisticated it could only have come from a nation state

The Internet service and telecommunications provider to all the European Union's official institutions was subjected to a malware attack that "no single company or authority could withstand on its own" the company's secretary general admitted on Thursday.

Belgian company Belgacom counts the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council among its customers.

Secretary general Dirk Lybaert and VP Geert Standaert of Belgacom told a special Parliamentary inquiry that Belgacom sounded the alarm when it discovered the malware in June. In July, results of an investigation showed a complex digital attack and previously unknown virus.

Standaert described the malware as "highly developed software" of the type that would normally only originate with a nation state. "The intruder had massive resources, sophisticated means and a steadfast intent to break into our network," said Lybaert.

However the two also played down the impact of the attack, saying only internal Belgacom systems had been affected, and since the cleanup, no new viruses had been detected. They said that Belgacom has "no indications" the hacker was able to monitor phone calls and that the malware was not designed to destroy data.

A Dutch member of the European Parliament (MEP), Sophie In't Veld, who was chairing the hearing, was incredulous. "Why would Belgacom internal systems be a target for a state? We're talking about a massive, sophisticated attack. But all is fine because only internal systems are affected?," she said.

Various press reports have suggested that the U.K.'s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) was behind the hack. According to Belgian newspaper De Standaard the U.K. intelligence agency had conducted surveillance on Belgacom for at least two years.

German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht said it was becoming increasingly clear that the GCHQ was behind the attack and pressed the Belgacom representatives to confirm this; however they refused to do so.

Standaert said that "at the moment Belgacom cannot confirm or deny allegations in press." But he admitted that the company does not know how long the malware was in its system.

Belgacom referred the case to Belgian federal prosecutors who are currently investigating. Meanwhile the company is carrying out its own internal probe with the assistance of Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and FoxIT.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentsecurityeuropean union

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?