Belgian Foreign Affairs office ‘knows about’ cyberattacks during China mission

Belgian Foreign Affairs office ‘knows about’ cyberattacks during China mission

“We are aware of the problem,” the Foreign Affairs office said on Saturday, after it was revealed cyberattacks had targeted the recent Belgian economic mission to China.

“Cyberattacks are a big problem all over the world,” the office said. A Foreign Affairs spokesperson added this is why measures are taken before a delegation departs. “It’s part of every mission now. We take precautions with the help of security services.”

The attacks were discovered by Geert Baudewijns from Secutec, a company that specialises in protection against hackers. Baudewijns was part of the delegation to China. “It was worse than predicted, but luckily we were prepared,” he explained. There were 135 attacks an hour on Monday afternoon. Chinese security services are suspected of being behind them.

He said the official delegation was well prepared. Members of the delegation had mobile phones that were disposed of once the delegation returned to Belgium. But Baudewijns is concerned some participating companies may have underestimated the danger.

Ingrid Van Daele, the spokesperson for State security, admitted “we briefed on the mission beforehand, we did so with others as well.” The delegation to China wasn’t the only one to be briefed by State security. Participating businesses were also briefed through regional trade agencies and business federations.

State security also published an informative brochure about how to protect your data while abroad on its website, which included advice like using a specific mobile phone for the mission. This device will then be “cleaned” or examined by an expert. State security also advises not using Wi-Fi networks, posting geo-localised data on social media or charging your device at public outpoints.

People who have been hacked can go to State security or the Centre for Cybersecurity for help.

The Brussels Times

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