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back to article Latest Snowden reveal: It was GCHQ that hacked Belgian telco giant

Leaked documents provide evidence that GCHQ planted malware in the systems of Belgacom, the largest telecommunications company in Belgium. According to slides obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and supplied to German newspaper Der Spiegel , the attack targeted several Belgacom employees and involved planting an attack …

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Anonymous Coward

If we do not respect other nations infrastructure, we have no moral high ground when they want to come into ours.

This worsens security concerns and will only get worse.

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/sarcasm

But you should have nothing to fear as you have done nothing wrong! They are only after people who will do harm! It is all for your own protection!

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I'm felling a bit Amdocs about all of this.

But as a US citizen, you should cherish the fact there will be a trunk line linking you not only to friendly people in Virginia, but also to friendly people abroad.

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Those with nothing to hide

"Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from Whistleblowers."

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Re: Those with nothing to hide

"Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from Whistleblowers."

Why is this the first time I'm hearing that. We should all use that a lot.

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Meh

Re: Those with nothing to hide

"Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from Whistleblowers."

Why is this the first time I'm hearing that. We should all use that a lot.

Probably because the spy agencies are happy to admit they have something to hide. In fact, they'd say they did even if they didn't, if only to muddy the waters.

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Re: Those with nothing to hide

Let me fix that for you.

"Those who have nothing illegal they have done to hide have nothing to hear from whistleblowers. "

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Pirate

Why would Belgacom not play ball?

".....If GCHQ was indeed the agency concerned then this investigation is unlikely to go anywhere and the most that can be expected is some sort of diplomatic complaint from Belgium to the UK, its EU and Nato (sic) partner....." Assuming we accept slides as some form of proof (were the slides a report on an actual attack, conjecture, or just a paper exercise?), you'd have to assume that Belgacom - majority owner being NATO partner the Belgian government - didn't say "Oui" when asked politely for a backdoor. Of course, it could be the spooks couldn't ask for a backdoor as BICS is actually a combine of non-NATO Swisscom's and Chinese-friendly South Africa's MTN's international cable businesses. Also, the fact that BICS's cables outside Europe are actually third-party leases - meaning hacking BICS potentially opened non-European, non-NATO, global cable companies to eavesdropping - probably was a factor too. So the question should actually be did the Belgian government not only condone but assist in the hack?

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Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant

> Assuming we accept slides as some form of proof

I'm beginning to wonder what' you would actually accept as proof here, or anywhere that disagrees with your opinion. Let's go back in time a little to <http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/2/2013/06/24/snowden_china_carriers_hacked_nsa/#c_1874316>

Bluegreen says: "In the Un i ted Kingdom, GCHQ is specifically required by law (and as and when tasked by the British government) to intercept foreign communications "in the interests of the economic well­being of the United e K i ngdom...."

To which Plump and Bleaty responds "Again, no proof that ANY actual commercial secrets have been stolen by GCHQ"

The article here says " leaked slides describe the exercise as already being a success and close to achieving its ultimate goal"

And also "In a statement issued earlier this week, Belgacom admitted its internal systems were compromised"

and "It added that the intrusion is under investigation by Belgian law enforcement."

and "supplied the following short statement which clarifies that Belgacom filed a criminal complaint in July"

And your response is "were the slides a report on an actual attack, conjecture, or just a paper exercise?". It would appear to be none of those three, Plumps.

You'd rather waste everyone's bandwidth than admit you were wrong (and maybe even learn from it). Seems you phsically just cannot.

Even by ovine standards you are not a very intelligent sheep, Plumps, but you sure make a lot of noise. Most of it condescension and denial.

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Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant

@Bluegreen: When you quote yourself in rhetoric, you're without a doubt taking it too personally.

Are slides proof? Probably not enough for a conviction, but enough for logically figuring the truth out.

Is Belgium hiding some degree of guilt? If they're not, they really need to reorganize their security, because they would literally be "clueless" at a government level.

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Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

> When you quote yourself in rhetoric, you're without a doubt taking it too personally.

Touche, thanks.

> Are slides proof?

Matt used the word previously so I'm returning the favour. However there is no absolute 'proof' in the real world, merely a preponderance of evidence such as to tip one's scales to a personal definite conclusion, depending on how one's personal scales are weighted by each. I'm just puzzled by matt's apparent decision to drop a handful of neutronium on one side of the balance and expect everyone to do the same, then abuse them when they don't.

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Would GCHQ formally admitting they did this be sufficent proof for everyone?

Would GCHQ formally admitting they did this be proof?

I mean, there is that Commonwealth Conference Snowden said the bugged, against just slides.

But after the slides didn't GCHQ pretty much admit the spied for economic advantage?

It is GCHQ, not the NSA, foreign industrial espionage and spying for economic interests is inside their public charter.

The NSA's General Alexander has basically admitted stuff from Snowden's slides too, PRISM, gathering metadata on US citizens and so on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

"I'm just puzzled by matt's apparent decision to drop a handful of neutronium on one side of the balance and expect everyone to do the same, then abuse them when they don't."

That, I'm afraid is Matt's normal modus operandii, visible in all the threads where he gets into an argument. Which is a pity, because he clearly knows a few things and contributes interesting views, but then makes the twin and repeated errors of believing that he is infallible, and is then abusive to people who choose to differ.

Other more minor of his crimes include that he will insist on concatenating quotes with his reply, making it difficult to read what he's saying, an instinctive downvoting of any post that he doesn't agree with (rather than apply downvotes selectively and on dismerit as most of us do), and I'm also suspicious that he's using multiple Reg user IDs to do pathetic things like contribute a couple of downvotes.

All of this is within your gift to sort out, Mr Bryant.

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FAIL

Re: BoringGreen Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant

"....Bluegreen says: "In the United Kingdom, GCHQ is specifically required by law (and as and when tasked by the British government) to intercept foreign communications "in the interests of the economic well­being of the United Kingdom...."....." Seeing as they probably didn't cover it in your last copy of Sheep Fanciers Monthly, I suppose it's news to you that AQ top numpty Ayman al-Zawahiri spent the 9/11 anniversary desperately begging islamist nutters everywhere to attack Western economic targets (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24083314)? He has to ask "lone wolves" because TWOT has been very successful in trashing his supporter networks in the West, especially i disrupting their financial means (thanks, VISA!). But economic attacks has kind of been a theme for AZ, going right back to AQ's original attempts to bomb the World Trade Center. Indeed, fighting TWOT itself is a constant drain on the UK economy, so using coms interception as one way to find the isalmsist nutters (and other fruitcakes and criminals) is actually makes economic as well as security sense. Once again, you have been herded to the assumption that "economic" has to mean "commercial", i.e., capitalist, rather than state interest.

"....To which Plump and Bleaty responds "Again, no proof that ANY actual commercial secrets have been stolen by GCHQ"....." Indeed, you still have not proved (a) that GCHQ was the party responsible for the malware infecting Belgacom's systems, or (b) that any material was spied upon by GCHQ, either for commercial reasons or otherwise. You have made a lot of CONJECTURE based on Snowden's latest leak, but that is all it is. Personally, I don't doubt that GCHQ are all over any bit of cable and system they can get their mitts on, but that is an OPINION rather than a FACT. You are trying to state a fact. You need conclusive evidence to state a fact, which these slides are not.

I will try and put it in the type of setting you may understand, given your fascination with alternate realities like TV rather than factual situations - your claiming GCHQ MUST HAVE hacked Belgacom just because a third party said they had an interest and motive in doing so is like saying Sue Ellen MUST HAVE shot JR. Then again, you were probably still just a drug-addled glimmer in your Mom's eye back in 1980. Sorry, I can't think of an alternative example with the kind of kids shows you probably watch.

"....The article here says " leaked slides describe the exercise as already being a success and close to achieving its ultimate goal"...." Again, being "close" is no cigar - there could be any number of other parties hacking into Belgacom that may have beaten GCHQ to the punch. Once again, all you have is conjecture. I could make just as good a case for the FSB, Chinese Army hackers, the Anonyputzs or just skiddies to have hacked the Belgacom systems.

"....It would appear to be none of those three, Plumps. You'd rather waste everyone's bandwidth than admit you were wrong...." The truth you want to deny is you WANT to baaaaah-lieve it was GCHQ and the NSA, but you can't prove it. That is a big legal difference you will probably need an adult to explain to you. And that is what really gets your wool in a twist! ROFLMAO!

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Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

"....However there is no absolute 'proof' in the real world, merely a preponderance of evidence such as to tip one's scales to a personal definite conclusion....." Your scales have been deliberately bent. You also don't want to admit the measure that counts is legality and proving it in a court of law. Which is really amusing because when it is cretins like the Anonyputzs doing crimes I'm sure you're scales are miraculously bent the other way. At least you provide plenty of unintended amusement.

".... I'm just puzzled by matt's apparent decision...." Don't worry, you're not the first sheeple that's been surprised - they tend to discourage independent thought in your type of flock, so it's a bit of a shock to their system when they meet someone that doesn't just roll over and swallow whatever they are told is the hip'n'trendy POV. When you grow up and get some wordly experience you may learn that.

".....then abuse them when they don't." Sorry, but when I run into someone as deliberately blinkered as you it's hard not to poke fun at them. But I can see why you would want to drag this argument off into the personal seeing as it is yet another thread where your statements of "fact" have been thoroughly debunked. Try again, lambikins.

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Re: AC Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

"....That, I'm afraid is Matt's normal modus operandii...." <Yawn> As you shall sow, so you shall reap. If you and your numpty chums stopped trying to pass off your paranoid delusions and conjecture as facts then I wouldn't need to point out the stupidity of unquestioningly accepting paranoid delusions and conjecture. After all, if your arguments were so sound and convincing you would have no problem defending them, which you obviously have as you (and the other sheeple) have AGAIN swerved off into moaning "oh, he's so mean to me". TBH, grow a pair. If you truly want to baaaah-lieve what you post then why do you have such probelms actually PROVING what you state are actually facts?

"....an instinctive downvoting of any post that he doesn't agree with....and I'm also suspicious that he's using multiple Reg user IDs......" LOL, I'm just going to chalk that one down to your paranoia. Unless you have some form of access to El Reg's voting system you have SFA clue as to how I vote or downvote, thanks. You obviously struggle with the fact that more than one person might disagree with what you have been spoonfed as The Truth, so much so you would rather baaaaaah-lieve it is just one "nasty" opposer making wrongful use of the voting tools rather than face up to the fact your POV is not universally accepted. If I was using multiple accounts then El Reg would know and have said so, it already infringes on their Ts&Cs, IIRC. I note you somehow fail to think such an accusation might apply to those that vote with your bleated POV, presumably because you think that your "righteous" views give you and the other Faithful some form of unquestionable moral superiority and render you unable to "cheat"? LOL, this is my surprised face, honest.

"....All of this is within your gift to sort out...." The problem is it is probably outside your "gift" to actually post a coherent statement of your own POV as you have no capability for independent thought, as demonstrated by your argument-free post. Which, FYI, I did downvote just the once for it's complete lack of relevant content. Enjoy!

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Happy

Re: AC Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

Why all this talk about sheep?

As a welsh man, you are getting me all excited!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

Matt, the usual rude garbage, proving exactly the point I was making earlier. I must say you seem to be getting worse - there's times of late when your responses look like the mad, angry prose of somebody with mental health issues.

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Happy

Re: AC Re: AC Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

"....proving exactly the point....." LOL, once agin we have the unproven "proof", and once again you avoid the actual thread subject by trying to drag it off into the personal. Face it, your lame tactic has been busted, your attempt to poison the well has been exposed, and you have lost twice over. Maybe you should talk to someone about your obsessive behaviour.

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Re: AC AC Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

"once again you avoid the actual thread subject by trying to drag it off into the personal"

What the f*** are you smoking, Bryant? You routinely drift off on tangential topics, you always personalise your responses, and seem to be pathologically abusive, and then you trot this sanctimonious shite out?

If there's a single individual round these parts suffering from some form of OCD, it's you.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: AC Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

Children, children. Fewer of the ad homs or I'll start trimming out posts. Play nicely.

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Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball?

I actually agree with Matt's original post (yep, that's my upvote there!), since his questions "Why didn't Belgacom play ball, and what has the Belgian government done about that?" are actually valid.

Matt is a difficult poster sometimes, but credit where credit is due - he does make some good points. However, do have some trouble with the mods blocking Eadon's account when he was far less rude than Matt, and one or two others. I'm really not advocating that anyone's account should be blocked, just that there was a lack of even-handedness there.

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Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball?

There's nothign suspicious about refusing to add a security vulnerability (which any backdoor is) to your systems.

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Re: Absolute Crap Re: AC AC Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant

Gee, is that you avoiding the topic AGAIN? Now, why in Earth would you be so anxious not to discuss the topic? Oh, could it be because you keep getting your a$$ handed yo you on a plate every time you do try an express an actual relevant argument? ROFLMAO! At least you are 100% consistent in your failure.

Seeing as you and your fellow sheeple are completely u noble to show proof that GCHQ actually did hack Belgacom, why don't you please try and explain (for amusement value) why no other party could possibly have been the ones to plant the malware in question? LOL!

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Facepalm

Re: teebie Re: Why would Belgacom not play ball?

BICS - the international cable bit of the business actually allegedly targeted - is not the Belgians' systems, they are owned by a multinational conglomerate which includes two non-NATO based companies. If it was 100% owned by the Belgian State them it would probably have happened with their blessing anyway. I would suspect that the Belgian government is now in the sticky position of having to pretend they knew nothing about a hack which they were probably not only in on, but probably also with the VSSE quietly getting the analyzed info on Belgian nationals and threats back from GCHQ and NSA.

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Happy

Re: AC AC Why would Belgacom not play ball? @matt bryant @MyBackDoor

" If there's a single individual round these parts suffering from some form of OCD, it's you."

BOG OFF!

I'm El Reg's most OCD afflicted commentard!

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Anonymous Coward

Why the name operation socialist? Can you interview the GCHQ? That would be an interesting anecdote.

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There is no reason, if it's GCHQ. That's rather the point. It'll be named after whatever random name the random name spewing database spewed out.

What kind of dumb-ass names ultra-secretive operations with names that are anything to do with their subject matter?

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Holmes

"What kind of dumb-ass names ultra-secretive operations with names that are anything to do with their subject matter?"

Probably the same sort of dumbass that thought this operation was a good idea in the first place.

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Many (not all) in the USA pretty much think all of Europe is socialist.

The article says the NSA originated the mission, so maybe they came up with the name.

Many (not all) in the USA pretty much think all of Europe is socialist.

I mean, even the UK has the NHS, socialists dream as far as many Americans are concerned.

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"What kind of dumb-ass names ultra-secretive operations with names that are anything to do with their subject matter?"

I upvoted you but 'a British bureaucrat' springs to mind.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Many (not all) in the USA pretty much think all of Europe is socialist.

Dumbass? Do speakers of American English not know that asses, are far from dumb. They make a dreadful, braying noise once they get going.

Actually, one can say the same about dump arses. Still Americans require a full bathroom just to take a piss in the woods.

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Big Brother

What ? me ? worry ?

Nothing's going to change and none of what we think matter.

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Why Worry? Change is Natural. Status Quo Situations Create Problematic Self-Harming Idiot Tendencies

Nothing's going to change and none of what we think matter. ... FuzzyTheBear Posted Friday 20th September 2013 14:39 GMT

You have an awesome lot to learn about what can be done today, by a few, [who may at any time or place in space choose to be more than just a few whenever they share what they be doing] for a different tomorrow, FuzzyTheBear, whenever you truly believe that nothing's going to change and none of what we think, matters.

And you might to consider and realise that the system/establishment knows that all too well too, which is why it is trying so hard to find out about everything which is not directly and specifically shared with it, and which causes it such bother and mayhem whenever networked selflessly via public and/or private and/or pirate means and memes or whistle blown to bring the houses of cards tumbling down.

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Holmes

Re: Why Worry? Changei.....

I could understand that.

Either amanfrommars has overdosed on the frog pills OR you, sir, are an imposter. If I were a betting man I know where my money would be.

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Re: Why Worry? Change is Natural..... THAT TITLE IS TOO LONG!

Indeed. If leverage can be put in the right places - it is surprising how much of a change can happen. Remember the proposed Syria intervention. It was a foregone conclusion, with forces already moving into place, until a handful of Conservative MPs were convinced to speak out, leading to the entire alliance falling apart, until it was only France left, resulting in the incredible situation that it's now seemingly Russia calling the shots.

All because of 20 or so backbenchers going against the party line.

The justifications for this kind of widespread surveillance are even more tenuous, and it could be another case of dominos falling if some parliament was twisted into taking a stand against it.

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Devil

Re: Why Worry? Change is Natural. Status Quo Situations Create Problematic...

"You have an awesome lot to learn about what can be done today, by a few, [who may at any time or place in space choose to be more than just a few whenever they share what they be doing] for a different tomorrow,..."

So how did that "Arab Spring" thing turn out? That ended up OK...didn't it? Everyone got what they were after.

OK...maybe not.

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Re: Why Worry? Change is Natural. Status Quo Situations Create Problematic...

Revolutions take a long time. Even the well organized ones.

Regardless, the 'Arab Spring' likely never would have happened in the first place if the UK and the US didn't oust the democratically elected governments and install dictators who fucked everything up so badly that an Fundamentalist Islamic government seemed like a good idea.

The Middle East already had their growing pains with democracy and were doing OK at it. We went over there and trashed it so you could drive around in '70's - '80's era gas guzzling vehicles for .03 cents on the gallon cheaper gas.

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Re: Why Worry? Changei.....

Still more sense and cohesion than a post from Matt Bryant.

Damn sight more polite too.

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Happy

Isn't hacking a crime?

Isn't hacking supposed to be bad? Recall a number of people going to jail or being burdened with defending against charges. In this crime the culprits are known and come complete with addresses. Waiting for the obligatory charges and jail. If the government needs an investigation then it should justify a warrant and get all the cooperation they need to proceed. Anything less is crime.

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Trollface

"trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

And evidently Belgium.

Nazi flemish speakers, dependent and destitute Walloons, crumbling infrastructure, nepotism that would make the MIC blush, a large and unfriendly Muslim population, high taxes, mafiosi everywhere, weird killing sprees, dangerous child molesters, a dysfunctional government, rumors of violent secession soon, and danish pastry.

They got it all.

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Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

Do you want mayonnaise on your chips?

GCHQ - the thin red line protecting you from the threat of Belgian invasion

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Trollface

Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

...and don't forget, they eat frites avec mayonnaise!

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Re: Belgium

It is far worse than a trouble spot. There is a vast international conspiracy. No wonder our finest are so busy.

http://zapatopi.net/belgium/

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Pint

Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

You forgot one : beer. Which makes all the others bearable.

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Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

Best send round the stormtroopers to arrest me in a bloody loud covert midnight raid. I am a dangerous convert to mayonnaise on chips.

Though, if pushed, I will admit salad cream is still better.

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Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

> I will admit salad cream is still better.

Salad cream was invented as a way of detecting Fench spies:

"Here have some salad"

"Zank you very much Mr Fellow English Person"

"Now put this on it"

"Argghh non - I admit it I'm French, please don't make me eat that...."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria"

Belgium: the best chips, the best chocolate, good coffee, not known for tea, generally known for gourmandising and excellent beer, plus a good place to earn your living if you can land a job in one of the international organisations there. Also, some attractive old towns and, from experience, outstanding beer festivals and women.

No wonder it gets spied upon, to find out how they do it, half the time without a government and no agreement on which language to use or even if it should stay as a single country.

I suspect the rest of Europe could learn a thing or two.

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Re: "trouble spots such as Yemen and Syria" @Fibbles

Salad cream on chips - oh, yes!! Mayonnaise is too bland - the vinegar is necessary.

Hmmmmmm - chip buttie with salad cream for lunch, methinks ....

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Damn! I was right!

Neener neener

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