Belgacom clears up after hack attempt

The Belgian telco is dealing with the aftermath of an intrusion into its IT systems - with the NSA named as a potential suspect.
Written by Martin Gijzemijter, Contributor

Belgacom has improved the security of its networks over the weekend to protect its customers after an attempt to break into the Belgian telco's IT systems.

Belgacom said on Monday it had commissioned a Dutch company (whose name it did not disclose) to perform a full security sweep of its networks.

"Previous security checks by Belgacom experts revealed traces of a digital intrusion in the company's internal IT system. Belgacom has taken all appropriate actions to protect the integrity of its IT system and to further reinforce the prevention against possible incidents," the company said.

NSA hack?

Reports in Belgium have suggested the NSA could be behind the intrusion. Although Belgacom claims to have no information about how long its systems have been compromised, sources told Belgian newspaper De Standaard that the NSA has been hacking the Belgian telco since early 2011.

Belgacom CEO Didier Bellens however refused to comment on Monday on whether the company believes the NSA is the party behind the hack, but said it had begun legal action against the unnamed perpetrator of the intrusion.

The company "strongly condemns the intrusion of which it has become a victim. The company has filed a complaint against an unknown third party and is granting its full support to the investigation that is being performed by the Federal Prosecutor," he said.

During a press conference held today by Bellens and the Belgian supervising Minister Jean-Pascal Labille, the minister also refrained from accusing the NSA. Labille added: "Once the perpetrators have been identified, we will respond appropriately, that I assure you."

Extremely sensitive issue

The matter is an extremely sensitive issue in Belgium, since the Belgian government is Belgacom's main shareholder.

According to the telco, the measures taken over the weekend are part of a continuous action plan to protect the security of its customers and their data while assuring the continuity of its services. 

"There is no indication of any impact on the customers or their data. At no point in time has the delivery of our telecommunication services been compromised. Neither has the clean-up caused any disturbance to our customers. All their telecom applications and services have continued to function normally," the company said.

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