Belgium’s national public sector network Belnet suffered a massive DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on Tuesday that paralyzed internet access for all institutions linked to the Belnet network, including the federal government and parliament, universities, researchers, and reservations for the country’s vaccination program.
The attackers specifically targeted Belnet, a government-funded ISP that provides internet connectivity for Belgian government organizations, such as its Parliament, educational institutions, ministries, and research centers.
According to the local authorities, the incident has impacted the activities of more than 200 Belgian government organizations which includes My Minfin, the government’s official tax- and form-filling portal, but also IT systems used by schools and universities for remote learning applications. In a tweet today, the Belgium Justice Department also reported disruptions but did not go into details.
“The fact that the perpetrators of the attack constantly changed tactics made it even more difficult to neutralize it. We are fully aware of the impact on the organizations connected to our network and their users and we are aware that this has profoundly disrupted their functioning,” said Dirk Haex, technical director at Belnet.
Parliament and other government activities were also disrupted today because some meetings couldn’t take place as they couldn’t be streamed for remote participants due to the ongoing DDoS attack. The country’s COVID-19 vaccine reservation portal, which is hosted on Belnet’s infrastructure, was also knocked offline as a result of the attack.
According to the official Twitter account for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, only the Finance and Foreign Relations committee was able to hold a meeting on Tuesday before others had to be canceled due to the ongoing DDoS attack. Several Belgium politicians and political observers noted today that the attack started around the same time the Belgium Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee was supposed to hold a meeting and hear a testimony from a survivor of China’s Uyghur forced labor camps.
Neither Belnet nor any other Belgium government organization have attributed the DDoS attack to any particular entity and seeing that the attack is still ongoing and would have to be investigated, attribution is currently very far away.
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