The Intercept recently wrote about how UK spies hacked a European ally and got away with it. However, the UK’s sigint agency GCHQ were obviously not hacking Belgacom on their own. Information is also available that the Swedish sigint agency FRA participated in similar type of activity. Both GCHQ and FRA are believed to participate in what is sometimes called the “European bazaar“, said to be run by the NSA in the USA to spy on EU citizens.
According to Swedish Television’s Uppdrag Granskning (link to content in Swedish), it appears that FRA participates in Quantum, which means NSA’s secret hacking programs, at least in April 2013. Note the timing with the Belgacom hack. In the summer of 2013 European investigators were looking into this unprecedented breach of Belgium’s telecommunications infrastructure. Ryan Gallagher writes more on his blog about how the NSA’s goal was to transition activities, that may be illegal in the UK, to the Swedish partner.
Changing of European laws to allow mass surveillance “for our security” has obviously also opened the door for critical infrastructure to be undermined.
Illustration by Carlos Latuff, available on Wikimedia Commons