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Hackers attack Belgian press group, second in days

Hackers attacked one of Belgium’s top newspaper publishers on Sunday just days after Tunisian Islamist militants took control of a regional government portal to denounce US counter-terror operations.

There was no immediate indication the incidents were linked to each other or to a massive cyberattack against French station TV5Monde on Wednesday which Paris said was likely a “terrorist act.”

Didier Hamann, head of the Le Soir newspaper, said the daily had been “the victim of an attack.”

“Nothing concrete to link it with TV5 or RW,” Hamman said in a tweeted message, referring to the French attack and Friday’s takeover of an economic news website run by the Wallonian regional government in southern Belgium.

“We are trying to determine the origin of the attack,” Hamann told Belga news agency separately.

“We are regularly targeted and the attacks are quickly controlled but in this case, the firewalls did not work as normal,” he added.

Le Soir is owned by the Rossel Group which has several other publications. Its websites were unavailable from 1730 GMT Sunday.

Eric Malrain, chief financial officer with the Rossel Group, told AFP: “There has been a cyberattack at Le Soir but we have no other information for the moment.”

Hamann said Le Soir would appear Monday as usual.

Earlier reports treated the incident as a technical breakdown before it was established it was a hacking attack.

In Friday’s attack on the Wallonian government website, hackers identified as the “Fallaga Team” from Tunisia ran a video followed by a message saying: “Take your heads out of the sand, struggle against your leaders, join the resistance.”

Press reports said the Fallaga Team had hacked several French institutions shortly after the Islamist attacks in Paris in January which left 17 people dead.

The TV5Monde hackers for their part said French President Francois Hollande had committed “an unforgivable mistake” by joining the US-led air campaign against the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, which had led to the January killings in Paris.

Belgium is also part of the US-led operation and in February said it would send around 35 soldiers to Iraq to help train its army in the fight against IS.