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Belgian government websites still under cyberattack

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash

Yesterday’s cyberattack on the Belnet network, which hosts websites for the Belgian government, universities and police services, is still ongoing.

The attack is still in progress and takes place in successive waves,” Belnet said in an update. “Our teams are working hard to mitigate them. We are constantly monitoring our network to counter any new attempts.”

Websites with .be domains are being affected. While some seemed to be functioning as of Wednesday morning, like those for Antwerp and Brussels police, others like the official website for the City of Brussels were still down.

The cyberattack caused problems for distance learning at several universities and colleges, due to constantly dropping connections. Brussels transit company STIB had issues with ticket sales and several meetings were postponed in parliament.

News outlets like VRT also experienced inconveniences due to the unusual attack.

“Belnet was founded in 1993. It is the first time that we have been confronted with such a gigantic data flow,” Belnet told the outlet.

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack like the one taking place against Belnet occurs when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted system with useless requests, causing websites to not load.

“We cannot expect to know tomorrow who is behind it. It is a very complex analysis that has to be done,” Belnet director Dirk Haex said.

A survivor of the Uighur camps in China, Ms Qelbinur Sidiq, went to give her first public testimony in the Chamber this afternoon. Conclusions on the cyber attack are premature. But it is important to point out the sensitive context. To deny that is naive.

Green MP Wouter De Vriendt suggested that China may be behind the attack, “but it is far too early to make any statements about this,” Haex said.

“It could just as well be dissatisfied students who are tired of taking digital lessons.”

Belnet filed a complaint with the Federal Computer Crime Unit yesterday, and the investigation is now being handled by that specialized service of the Federal Police.

Update (12:25 PM Wednesday): “The situation remains stable. However, we remain vigilant to counter any new attempts. Remainder incidents are being treated in close collaboration with the impacted customers with the necessary priority. Belnet customers can contact our Service Desk at 02 790 33 00. We apologize for the inconvenience,” says Belnet.