Belgian telco trusted Microsoft, paid the price

(09-17-2013) Belgium's largest telco may have been rooted by the NSA while under the care of Microsoft.A persistent attack discovered at Belgacom compromised network security throughout Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Europe for perhaps as long as 2 years, according to Dutch sources. Belgacom also services Syria, Yemen and much of Africa. They are, in fact the largest telco in the Middle East and Africa. Last July, problems began to arise in some of their servers. A security audit by Microsoft didn't reveal any problems, but after the revelations by Edward Snowden, the Belgian government had their own people take a detailed look.

What was found has been described in the press as an "unknown virus", but a recent article at standaard.be calls it an "Advanced Persistent Attack". The attack was traced in June, after political probes in May turned up dry, and now accusations fly about whether politicians lied to cover up the data breach. One of Microsoft's managers in Belgium now is describing the attack as an expensive affair crafted over time with the purpose of extracting a continuous flow of data. But Microsoft's early failure is now easy to understand, given what we now know about their extensive and willing collaboration with the NSA, thanks to The Guardian and Edward Snowden. Yesterday, Belagom claims it brought an end to the "persistant attack", which was most likely from a large government or corporate entity, and Begium's chief prosecutor initiated an investigation.

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