The extent of an alleged hack by GCHQ on Belgacom was "more aggressive and far-reaching than previously thought", according to new leaks by Edward Snowden released over the weekend.
Last autumn, the UK agency GCHQ was accused of hacking into the Belgian telecoms firm - whose brands include Telindus, Skynet, Proximus and BICS.
But over the weekend, based on new documents from Edward Snowden's archive, website The Intercept, along with Dutch and Belgian newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Standaard, revealed the extent of the hack was "more aggressive and far-reaching than previously thought".
According to the leaks, the UK government hack "compromised the most sensitive parts of Belgacom's systems" for more than two years before it was noticed. On top of this, The Intercept claims the new details directly link GCHQ to Regin, which is "one of the most-sophisicated piece of malware ever discovered".
Snowden told The Intercept - which is a site dedicated to providing a platform for the ex-National Security Agnecy whistleblower - that the leaks were unprecedented.
"[This is the] first documented example to show one EU member state mounting a cyberattack on another," he said. "[It] is a breathtaking example of the scale of the state-sponsored hacking problem."
The Intercept added that the news should ring alarm bells for all involved.
"The revelations about the scope of the hacking operation will alarm Belgacom's customers, which include millions of citizens across Europe as well as officials from top institutions including the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council," it said.
"The new details will also be closely scrutinised by a federal prosecutor in Belgium, who is currently carrying out a criminal investigation into the attack on the company.
"The secret British infiltration of Belgacom is an unprecedented example of a cyberattack on the infrastructure of a closely allied country."
In a statement sent to Channelnomics Europe, GCHQ said: "It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework."
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