Belgacom downplays UK hacking allegations at EU hearing
Euobserver: “Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom has played down revelations it was hacked by British intelligence.
The state-owned company, which supplies services to EU institutions and whose subsidiary, Bics, handles data transfers between Europe and the Middle East, sent two top men to answer questions at an EU parliament hearing on Thursday (3 October).
Its secretary general, Dirk Lybaert, told MEPs: “This is a kind of attack that a single company or country would be unable to withstand on its own … The intruder had massive resources, sophisticated means and a steadfast intent to break into our network.”
But he declined to speculate on the “hypothesis” that Britain’s spy hub, GCHQ, did it, as reported by German daily Der Spiegel last month on the basis of files exposed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Belgacom vice president Geert Standaert echoed Lybaert in saying the malware was “extremely sophisticated.”
He said “at the moment, Belgacom cannot confirm or deny allegations in the press [on British involvement]” because the case is under scrutiny by Belgian prosecutors.
He noted that Belgacom discovered the spyware in June, but it does not know how long ago it was compromised.
He added that it penetrated just 124 out of its 26,000 IT systems and that it has been “cleaned out” over the past few months. “The attack had no impact on customers,” he said…”
EUROPEAN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
– BORDER CONTROL POLICIES
EU after Lampedusa tragedy: More border surveillance
Euobserver: “Up to 300 migrants are feared dead after a boat caught fire near Lampedusa and the Italian coast guard failed to spot it in time.
Italy is holding a day of mourning on Friday (4 October) after more than a hundred bodies were found in the sea and rescuers are still searching for over 200 migrants who are still missing.
Around 150 people managed to survive the shipwreck and are being taken care of on the small Italian island, which in the past few years has become the main entry point for migrants looking for a better life in Europe.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, most of the migrants were from Eritrea and Somalia.
The survivors told rescuers that they set fire to a blanket to attract the attention of coast guards after the overcrowded boat started sinking. The fire spread making people panic start jumping in the water, even though many were unable to swim.
Raffaele Colapinto, a local fisherman who was among the first on the scene, told AFP: “We saw a sea of heads. We took as many as we could on board.”
A 35-year old Tunisian, who was steering the boat, was arrested. “He had been deported from Italy in April,” said Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano.
“This is not an Italian tragedy, this is a European tragedy,” he said, calling for more help from fellow EU nations in coping with migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.
The matter will be discussed at the next meeting of EU interior ministers, on Monday (7 October).
EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said this tragedy shows the need for Europe to “become better at identifying and rescuing vessels at risk.”
“We also need to intensify our efforts to fight criminal networks exploiting human despair so that they cannot continue to put people’s lives at risk in small, overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels,” she said in a press release…”
Also on the same topic:
Migrant tragedy off Italy coast : http://www.neurope.eu/article/migrant-tragedy-italy-coast
PACE President reacts to Lampedusa tragedy : http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/News/News-View-EN.asp?newsid=4684&lang=2&cat=15