BREAKING UPDATE: US condemns Iran’s cyberattack on Albania. Image: Yuriy Boyko_Ukraine/Shutterstock.com
THE US has condemned Iran’s cyberattack on Albania, which led to Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula country expelling Iran’s ambassador.
UPDATE 2.44 pm (September 7) – NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson released a statement on Iran’s Cyberattack against Albania, this followed Albania’s decision to expel Iran’s ambassador and freeze diplomatic ties over July’s cyberattack.
“The United States strongly condemns Iran’s cyberattack against our NATO Ally, Albania,” Adrienne Watson said on Wednesday, September 7.
“We join in Prime Minister Rama’s call for Iran to be held accountable for this unprecedented cyber incident. The United States will take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace.”
She added: “For weeks, the U.S. government has been on the ground working alongside private sector partners to support Albania’s efforts to mitigate, recover from, and investigate the July 15 cyberattack that destroyed government data and disrupted government services to the public.
“We have concluded that the Government of Iran conducted this reckless and irresponsible cyberattack and that it is responsible for the subsequent hack and leak operations.”
“Iran’s conduct disregards norms of responsible peacetime State behaviour in cyberspace, which includes a norm on refraining from damaging critical infrastructure that provides services to the public. Albania views impacted government networks as critical infrastructure,” she added.
“Malicious cyber activity by a State that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs its use and operation to provide services to the public can have cascading domestic, regional, and global effects; pose an elevated risk of harm to the population; and may lead to escalation and conflict.
“We will continue to support Albania’s remediation efforts over the longer-term, and we invite partners and Allies to join us in holding malicious cyber actors accountable and building a secure and resilient digital future,” she concluded.
ORIGINAL 12.26 pm (September 7) – On Wednesday, September 7, the government of Albania announced that it had expelled Iran’s ambassador after a “heavy cyberattack on the digital infrastructure of the Government of the Republic of Albania” back in July.
Albania’s Council of Ministers has decided to sever diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“On July 15, our country became the target of a heavy cyberattack on the digital infrastructure of the Government of the Republic of Albania in a bid to destroy it, paralyse public services and hack data and electronic communications from the government systems,” the government said on Wednesday, September 7.
“The said attack failed its purpose. Damages may be considered minimal compared to the goals of the aggressor. All systems came back fully operational and there was no irreversible wiping of data.”
It added: “For weeks now, while work has been ongoing 24/7 to restore all damages, thorough investigations have been conducted to identify the aggressor. In cooperation with specialized partner agencies against cyber terrorism, who brought their teams to Tirana, it was confirmed that, first, without a shadow of doubt, the July 15 attack on Albania was not an individual operation or a concerted action by independent criminal groups, but a State-sponsored aggression.
“The in-depth investigation provided us with indisputable evidence that the cyberattack against our country was orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran through the engagement of four groups that enacted the aggression – one of them being a notorious international cyber-terrorist group, which has been a perpetrator or co-perpetrator of earlier cyberattacks targeting Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.”
“We have informed accordingly our strategic allies, the NATO Member States and other friendly countries, with whom we have shared the irrefutable evidence resulting from the investigation that corroborate the source of the aggression against our country,” it said.
“As above, the Council of Ministers has decided on the severance of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran with immediate effect. An official notice of the decision has been sent to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, asking that all the diplomatic, technical and administrative, and security staff leave within 24 hours the territory of the Republic of Albania.”
It added: “This extreme response, one that is unwanted but totally forced on us, is fully proportionate to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack that threatened to paralyse public services, erase digital systems and hack into State records, steal Government intranet electronic communication and stir chaos and insecurity in the country.
“Failure of this massive attack on our country thanks to the resilience of the systems we have built and the assistance of specialised groups who fought on our side is not the end of the cyber threat, but the clear proof that, thanks to its digital development, Albania is part of the large map of the battle for cyber security.
“The good news, however, is that we know what to do and how to do it to prevent anyone from harming us, just like we know that we will do the right things in the right way, also because we have the right partners on our side,” it concluded.
People reacted to the news on Twitter.
One person wrote: “Just as Chelsea did to Tuchel.”
Just as Chelsea did to Tuchel https://t.co/0enr7WsyWH
— 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐝 ⚪️🔴 (@AfcWinfred) September 7, 2022
Another person wrote: “The Albanian and Kosovan cyber companies got literally SLAUGHTERED, everything that was on their nations sys (emails, IDs, secret docs) got hacked by yet unknown proxies. That’s what happens when you give out projects to locals and kickbacks. @XSvecla is making the same mistake.”
The Albanian and Kosovan cyber companies got literally SLAUGHTERED, everything that was on their nations sys (emails, IDs, secret docs) got hacked by yet unknown proxies
That’s what happens when you give out projects to locals and kickbacks @XSvecla is making the same mistake
— Rinor Muia (@_RMed_) September 7, 2022
“Leave the issue to Dua Lipa she’s gonna get it settled,” said another Twitter user.
Leave the issue to Dua Lipa she’s gonna get it settled.
— T̶a̶y̶l̶o̶r̶’s̶ Tired Version (@tired_version) September 7, 2022
While another person said: “Albanian man forgets his computer password and calls it a cyberattack.”
Albanian man forgets his computer password and calls it a cyberattack https://t.co/Huu0Xr7Gfb
— GioGio🤠 (@offbranddio) September 7, 2022
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