The Belgian Ministry of the Interior was the victim of a cyber attack in which the intruders gained access to the entire electronic system of the ministry. Belgian experts say the attack probably started in China, according with Euractiv.
The attack, which was revealed by Cybersecurity Belgium (CCB) technicians in March, first began in April 2019.
The attack kept secret not to reveal the vulnerability of the system until after it has been repaired.
The Home Office asked the CCB to investigate the network when Microsoft revealed problems with Exchange, the email system used by many businesses and organizations. According to the Belgian media, the hackers gained access to computer systems taking advantage of an Exchange vulnerability.
Earlier, Microsoft announced that Chinese hackers Hafnium exploited a vulnerability in Exchange to penetrate computer networks worldwide.
The Belgian Ministry of the Interior stated that "the situation is under control: the network has been repaired and security has been restored. No further details could be released due to the ongoing investigation. "
The ministry's servers are well protected and the hqckers failed to obtain very sensitive data, ministry communications director Olivier Maerens told RTBF (Radio Television Belge Francophone) on Tuesday.
The federal prosecutor's office has launched an investigation to find out where the hack came from, what data was leaked and whether a foreign state is involved.
According to experts quoted by RTBF, the purpose of the attack was not to destroy the site or ask the hackers for ransom. It was more complicated and more targeted, leading to the belief that it was espionage.
Maerens said immediate action was taken to prevent the intruder or intruders from gaining access and the security of the server was enhanced.
Earlier in May, another massive cyber attack destroyed Belgium's Belnet network, which links higher education institutions, universities, research centers and public administration.