New secure communications system commissioned for ministers and officials

The Belgian government has commissioned a new communication system to prevent sensitive information from being intercepted or viewed by foreign powers or criminal organisations, Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt announced on Friday.

The system, Belgian Secure Communications (BSC), developed in Belgium, will protect classified or sensitive information and communication between ministers, top officials and diplomats. It also includes a closed network with secret locations for classified data traffic and video conferences, as well as specially developed smartphones and laptops. The BSC is also developing an application for communication between all government employees.

The BSC is set to replace Belgian Intelligence Network Information Infrastructure, developed by the ministry of Defence in 2007. That system is outdated and not adapted to new technology, modern communication and the large volume of data traffic.

According to Van Tigchelt's cabinet, during a Belgian economic mission to China in 2019, 135 hacking attempts per hour were detected on delegation members' mobile phones. "Last January, during the last mission to China with prime minister Alexander De Croo, the BSC provided separate secure mobile phones and strict guidelines so that the mission could take place safely," a spokesperson said.

The system does not rely entirely on commercial companies or services from abroad, in line with the zero-trust principle. No connection is made to the internet or servers that are not proprietary.

The technology was originally commissioned in 2021 by former Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.


Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo © PHOTO JOHN THYS / AFP

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