“Operation Socialist” designed “to enable better exploitation of Belgacom.”
by Cyrus Farivar – Sept 20 2013, 4:05pm +0300
Citing documents provided by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday that it was actually the United Kingdom that was behind the recently disclosed malware infection at a major Belgian telco. Der Spiegel said that top secret documents from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA, show that “Operation Socialist” was designed “to enable better exploitation of Belgacom.”
Previously, a major Belgian newspaper, De Standaard, had pointed the finger at the NSA. The scandal has raised a lot of questions in the European Union—after all, Belgium and the United Kingdom are both part of the 28-member bloc. As Der Spiegel reported:
According to the slides in the GCHQ presentation, the attack was directed at several Belgacom employees and involved the planting of a highly developed attack technology referred to as a “Quantum Insert” (“QI”). It appears to be a method with which the person being targeted, without their knowledge, is redirected to websites that then plant malware on their computers that can then manipulate them. Some of the employees whose computers were infiltrated had “good access” to important parts of Belgacom’s infrastructure, and this seemed to please the British spies, according to the slides.
Belgacom deferred all questions of future action to the public prosecutor and the Ministry of Justice. “Belgacom has detected and eradicated the virus,” Haroun Fenaux, a Belgacom spokesperson, told Le Soir newspaper (Google Translate) on Friday.“We’ve then brought a complaint. With respect to all of these aspects, since Monday we have communicated everything in a transparent manner. Now, it is the job of the federal prosecutor, supported by the Computer Crime Unit and the Ministry of Defense, to do their job and determine who was behind the virus and what their intentions were.”