US National Security Agency

US National Security Agency linked to hacking of telecoms giant in Belgium

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 5:02am

Belgium has denounced the "substantial and invasive" hacking of its biggest telecommunications company, saying a foreign state may have been responsible, as media pointed the finger at the US National Security Agency.

Two months after the revelations of Edward Snowden, state-owned Belgacom said on Monday that its computers had been hacked and a formal complaint filed to Belgian prosecutors.

Prosecutors said it could only have been done by an entity "with significant financial and logistical means" and suspicions were circling on an act of "international state espionage". They believed that the aim was probably "to gather strategic information" rather than to "sabotage or to cause economic damage".

The minister responsible for public companies, Jean-Pascale Labille, said investigators would have to find the organisations behind the "substantial and invasive" hacking. Belgium would raise cybersecurity issues with its European partners, he said. He added that he understood France had suffered similar incidents.

The servers belonged to employees of Belgacom and did not involve customers' data or communications, the company said.

But Belgian media on Monday directed their suspicions at the NSA, the security agency exposed by Snowden as a snooper of multinational institutions, embassies, and even allies.

Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported on Monday that the Belgacom intrusion was organised by the NSA and began in 2011 at the latest, but without revealing its sources for the charge.