Using a delivery method called “Quantum Insert,” British intelligence agency GCHQ tricked employees of a major telecom company in Belgium into installing malware.
According to a Monday article in German newspaper Der Spiegel, the technique was used against Belgacom, Belgium’s largest telecommunications company, which was previously revealed to have been the victim of a years-long espionage campaign, of which the National Security Agency (NSA) had its hand in.
Der Spiegel obtained the information via documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Victims were reportedly lured to GCHQ’s malware as they perused their LinkedIn profiles or Slashdot.org, a tech news site. The “Quantum Insert” technology makes use of high-speed servers located at “key internet switching points” so that victims call up pages of the spies choosing, instead of ones on sites they intended to visit, the paper revealed.
Using the method, GCHQ was also able to “deeply infiltrate” Belgacom’s subsidiary BICS, which operates a GRX router system, which is necessary for users making calls or browsing the web via their mobile devices while abroad.
Upon hearing of the news from Der Spiegel, LinkedIn told the outlet that it did “not sanction the creation or use of fake LinkedIn profiles or the exploitation of its platform for the purposes alleged” by the paper.
In the mission, called “Operation Socialist,” Switzerland-based billing companies, Comfone and Mach, were also targeted with the sophisticated exploitation tool.