Unprecidented cyber attack hits public service websites, students, teleworkers and the VRT 

The internet traffic management company Belnet suffered a cyber attack on Tuesday afternoon. This meant that several government websites, including that of the Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) and the Finance Department’s Tax-on-Web site were either extremely slow to load or inaccessible. Several commission meetings in the Federal Parliament had to be cancelled and the online coronavirus vaccination reservation system was out of action for two hours. A frantic search is now underway to try and catch those resonsible.  

It was Belnet itself that disclosed that a cyber attack had taken place. The attack was a Ddos attack in which a site is swamped with thousands of requests causing it to block. Belnet manage internet traffic for public services and authorities and the country’s universities and colleges of higher education. Many students being taught by distance learning methods and people teleworking have also been impacted. The VRT too is experiencing issues with its websites. 

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon Belnet’s technical team noticed that there was extremely heavy traffic on the websites of universities and public bodies. The cyber attack meant that for around two hours it was impossible to book an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine online. This particular issue has since been resolved. The attack is described by Belnet as being "unprecidented" in its scale. IT experts are currently involved in a cat and mouse chase to try and catch those responsible and bring the attack to an end. 

The cyber attack had no impact on the vaccination centres as they were able to upload the data on the appointments already made from the vaccination database. The issues with the reservation system were limited to Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels and Wallonia, as elsewhere in Flanders those that have been invited for a vaccination are told when they should turn up on their invitation.

Belnet is keen to stress that no data was stolen during the cyberattack. An investigation has been launched to try and find out who was responsible. 

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