Albania blamed Iran for the July attack and on Wednesday cut diplomatic ties over the affair

Albania hit by new cyberattack blaming Iran

Albania blamed Iran for the July attack and cut off diplomatic relations on Wednesday over the incident – Copyright AFP –

The country’s interior ministry said on Saturday that Albania was under a new cyberattack, blaming Iran, which Tirana also blamed for an earlier attack on its digital systems.

“The computer systems of the national police were subjected to a cyberattack on Friday, which, according to preliminary information, was carried out by the same entities that attacked the systems of the state and public services of the country in July,” the ministry said in a statement.

“In order to neutralize criminal activities and secure systems,” the authorities shut down computer control systems at seaports, airports and border posts, the statement said.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Edi Rama condemned “another cyber attack (committed) by the same aggressors already condemned by Albania’s friendly countries and allies.”

Albania blamed Iran for the July attack and broke off diplomatic relations on Wednesday over the affair.

The two countries have been sworn enemies for years, ever since the Balkan state began hosting members of the opposition People’s Mujahideen of Iran, or Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK).

On Wednesday, Rama accused Iran of orchestrating a July 15 cyberattack on Albanian institutions to “paralyze government services and hack data and emails from government systems.”

Tirana spoke for the first time about the alleged attack.

“The Council of Ministers has decided to immediately break off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Rama said.

“This attack did not achieve its goal. The damage can be considered minimal compared to the goals of the aggressor. All systems returned to a fully functional state and no permanent data wipe occurred.”

The prime minister went on to say that Iranian diplomats and embassy staff have 24 hours to leave the country.

– Iranian denials –

Iran dismissed the cyberattack allegation as “unfounded” and called Albania’s decision to cut off diplomatic relations “a rash and short-sighted act.”

“Iran, as one of the target countries of cyberattacks on its critical infrastructure, rejects and condemns any use of cyberspace as a tool to attack the critical infrastructure of other countries,” its foreign ministry said.

On Friday, the US announced sanctions against Iran’s intelligence and security ministry and its minister, Esmail Khatib, over Tehran’s alleged involvement.

The Islamic Republic has also been subject to cyberattacks, most notably in 2010 when the Stuxnet virus, allegedly created by Israel and the US, infected its nuclear program.

In 2013, Albania agreed to host MEK members at the request of Washington and the United Nations, and over the years, thousands of people have settled in this Balkan nation.

After the collapse of the communist government in the early 1990s, Albania became a reliable ally of the US and the West, formally joining NATO in 2009.

The MEK supported Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah, but quickly fell out with the new Islamic authorities and launched a years-long campaign to overthrow the regime.

The MEK regularly hosts summits in Albania, which have long enjoyed the support of conservative US Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who delivered the keynote speech at the event in June.

A month later, the group postponed another summit, citing unspecified security threats directed at the event.

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