The latest hack forced Albanian officials to temporarily shut down their Total Information Management System (TIMS), a system for tracking data about those entering and leaving Albania, according to an Albanian interior ministry statement.
The cyberattack was the work of “the same aggressors” who carried out the hack in July, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a tweet. The hack happened on Friday, according to the Interior Ministry, and by Saturday evening, the ministry said it expects all aspects of TIMS to be restored soon.
The incident represents a new challenge for the Biden administration, which this week vowed to “hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally” and NATO member following the July cyberattack.
The July hack came ahead of a conference in Albania that was supposed 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 aimed at destabilizing and harming the security of an ally, as well as disrupting the daily lives of citizens,” NATO members said in a statement on Thursday.
In response, the Iranian embassy in Brussels on Friday “rejected baseless accusations” that Iran was behind the cyber attack on the July hack.
A spokesman for Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday’s latest hacking incident.
CNN has requested a comment from the White House National Security Council.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said a cyberattack could trigger NATO’s Collective Defense Article, which requires all members to defend themselves against an attack on another member. But this principle has never been tested in practice, and it is not clear what the threshold for such collective protection is.
“Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true. [that Iran was behind the latest hack]John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at security firm Mandiant, who investigated the July hack, told CNN. “States like Iran don’t seem to be deterred by diplomatic decisions. As if the cost of these incidents is ultimately acceptable to them.”