Belgium’s largest telecom provider Belgacom has been hacked by British intelligence agency GCHQ, in an orchestrated attack to spy on the European Union and Belgium’s government officials.
The sophisticated malware attack disguised itself as Microsoft software, going undetected for over a year. It was not until NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked the information on GCHQ being behind the attack that Belgacom found its source.
Even though Belgacom found the malware in 2013, the company is still worried the cleanup job didn’t remove all of the malware, meaning the UK surveillance group could still have eyes of all of Belgacom’s partners.
Sources who worked on destroying the malware claim it is the most advanced attack they have ever seen, the GCHQ has invested millions in cyber attacks and defense and has capabilities that far surpass most state-sponsored hacking.
Named “Operation Socialist”, the malware bug was the UK’s (and U.S.) way into the inner governments of many European countries, able to steal secrets from computers and effectively monitor all of Belgacom’s partners.
At such a tense time when Germany starts to move away from the US, it is extremely odd as to why the GCHQ attempted this hack, on one of its closest allies. Belgium has been under the UK’s protection for over two centuries and the two groups have fought in World War’s together, but it is clearly not enough for the GCHQ to overstep its boundaries.
The UK is also facing a huge change in Europe, moving out of the European Union. If the UK cannot create strong alliances with Germany once it leaves, it might find industrial imports scrapped and a loss of political and economical allies in Europe.
Once again, the GCHQ is silent on the matter, not answering for comment. In a court case a few weeks ago, Privacy International lost the right to sue the GCHQ in the UK, but the pro-privacy group will try again in the European Court of Human Rights.
Source: The Intercept