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Hackers attack Belgian press group

April 13, 2015

Belgian media group Rossel has become the second French-speaking organization to fall victim to a cyber attack in a matter of days. For hours, the online edition of "Le Soir" was unavailable. The hackers remain unknown.

Le Soir HQ, Belgium
Image: AFP/Getty Images/L. Dieffembacq

From around 7p.m. local time (17:00 UTC) on Sunday evening, readers of one of Belgium's biggest French-speaking newspapers were unable to access the site following a cyber attack.

"'Le Soir' is regularly attacked by hackers," said newspaper director, Didier Hamann, on Twitter. "But this time the firewall is not working as usual."

In order to prevent the attack spreading, "Le Soir" was left with no choice but to disable the website, leaving the online publication unavailable until early Monday morning. However, the print edition of "Le Soir" was distributed as usual.

"Le Soir" is part of the media group Rossel, which publishes several newspapers. According to the Belgian news agency Belga, the attack targeted all of the group's sites. The website of "Sudpresse" was also temporarily unavailable.


The attack on the Rossel group came just days after French television broadcaster TV5 Monde was hacked, in what the company described as "unprecedented in the history of television."

Self-styled cyberjihadists later claimed the attack on behalf of "Islamic State" (IS) militants. Hackers blocked the channel for 18 hours from 10 p.m. local time (2000 UTC) on Wednesday, while simultaneously posting threats on TV5 Monde's website in French, English and Arabic.

The militants also used the broadcaster's Facebook page to post documents which they claimed were identity cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers fighting IS.

Who's behind the attack?

In a tweet on Monday, Hamann said the origin of the attack was "unidentified." There was no immediate evidence to suggest a link between the attack on the Rossel group and that targeting TV5 Monde.

Late last week, hackers claiming to be Tunisian Islamists also attacked the Walloon Government website. The group called "Fallaga team" posted a propaganda video on the site. Belgium is currently involved in the US-led operation against IS in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamist terrorist group has taken control of large swathes of land.

ksb/jil (AFP, dpa)

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