Albania blames Iran for second cyberattack since July

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The latest hack forced Albanian officials to temporarily take its Total Information Management System (TIMS), a system for tracking data of those entering and leaving Albania, offline temporarily, according to a statement from the Albanian Ministry of Information. ‘Interior.

The cyberattack is the work of the “same attackers” who carried out the July hack, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed in a tweet. The hack took place on Friday, according to the Home Office, and early Saturday evening the department said it expected all aspects of TIMS to be restored soon.

The incident poses a new challenge to the Biden administration, which pledged this week to “hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of an American ally” and NATO member following the July cyberattack.

The Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned Iran’s spy agency for allegedly carrying out the July hack, which knocked some Albanian government services offline and left the Albanian government scrambling to recover. The White House said US officials have been on the ground for weeks to help. Albania has severed diplomatic ties with Iran in what may be the first case of a hack causing a severing of ties between the countries.

The July hack took place ahead of a conference in Albania to be attended by members of the MEK, an Iranian group that advocates the overthrow of the Iranian government and which Tehran considers a terrorist organization.

“We strongly condemn such malicious cyber activities designed to destabilize and harm the security of an Ally, and disrupt the daily lives of citizens,” NATO members said in a statement on Thursday.

In response, the Iranian embassy in Brussels on Friday “dismissed baseless accusations” that Iran was behind the cyberattack in the July hack.

A spokesman for Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday on the latest hacking incident.

In 2007, the U.S. government helped Albania, a self-described “wear on terrorism” ally of the Bush administration, deploy the TIMS hardware and software systems for immigration processing, according to a report. State Department archived page.

CNN has requested comment from the White House National Security Council.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said a cyberattack could trigger NATO’s collective defense clause, requiring all members to defend against an attack on another member. But this principle has never been tested in practice, and it is unclear what the threshold for such collective defense is.

“Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. [that Iran was behind the latest hack]John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at security firm Mandiant, which investigated the July hack, told CNN. “States like Iran don’t seem to be deterred by diplomatic solutions. . It’s as if the price of these incidents is finally acceptable to them.”

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