British hacked Belgian telecom firm: Der Spiegel

AFP-JIJI

Britain’s intelligence services were behind a cyberattack on state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom, a German newsweekly reported Friday.

Der Spiegel magazine said documents it had seen from fugitive U.S. leaker Edward Snowden’s “archive” indicated that the goal of the project, code-named Operation Socialist, was for “better spying” on Belgacom.

That information was undated, but another document indicated access had been possible since at least 2010.

Spiegel noted that Belgacom’s customers include European Union institutions.

The company’s BICS unit — which operates huge volumes of phone and data traffic in Africa and the Middle East — was also on the radar of Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, the newsweekly added.

Belgacom said Monday its network had suffered an “intrusion” that a media report blamed on the U.S. National Security Agency as it snooped on communications in Africa and the Middle East.

Belgian federal prosecutors also said that Belgacom had filed a complaint in July for “nonauthorized access” to its servers.

Spiegel said GCHQ information indicated the British had used spy technology developed by the NSA. Spiegel reported in June that the EU was also a target of the NSA’s spying program.