Police officers in front of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tirana on September 8, 2022

Police officers in front of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tirana on September 8, 2022

NATO Allies Decry Iran-Linked Cyberattack Against Albania

Thursday, 09/08/2022

NATO allies condemned Thursday a recent cyberattack against Albania that led to Tirana severing relations with the Islamic Republic a day earlier. 

"We strongly condemn such malicious cyber activities designed to destabilize and harm the security of an ally, and disrupt the daily lives of citizens," the North Atlantic Council, grouping the representatives of NATO's 30 member states, said in a statement.

"NATO and allies support Albania in strengthening its cyber defense capabilities to withstand and repel such malicious cyber activities in the future," it added.

Albania cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Edi Rama accused the Islamic Republic of being behind the July attack and gave its diplomats 24 hours to close the embassy and leave the country. "This extreme response ... is fully proportionate to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack that threatened to paralyze public services, erase digital systems and hack into state records, steal government intranet electronic communication and stir chaos and insecurity in the country," he said.

The United States and the UK strongly condemned the cyberattack, with the US saying it will “take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a US ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace.”

The attack happened around the time of a conference of the exiled Iranian Albania-based opposition group Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK). In early August, cybersecurity firm Mandiant expressed “moderate confidence” the attackers were acting in support of Tehran’s efforts to disrupt the MEK conference, which had to be cancelled as well due to a terror threat.

Iran’s foreign ministry Thursday rejected US and UK accusationsabout the alleged cyberattack. Relations between Tehran and Tirana have been tense since 2014, when Albania accepted some 3,000 members of the MEK.

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