Albania has suffered a second cyberattack, the country’s interior ministry has said, days after the Balkan nation cut diplomatic ties with Tehran over alleged hacking of government digital services and websites in July.
“The national police’s computer systems were hit Friday by a cyberattack which, according to initial information, was committed by the same actors who in July attacked the country’s public and government service systems,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“In order to neutralise the criminal act and secure the systems,” the authorities have shut down computer control systems at seaports, airports and border posts, the statement said.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Edi Rama denounced “another cyberattack [committed by] the same aggressors already condemned by Albania’s friendly countries and allies”.
Iran has rejected the accusation that it was behind the attack as “baseless”, calling Albania’s decision to sever diplomatic ties “an ill-considered and short-sighted action”.
The two countries have been bitter foes for years, since the Balkan state began hosting members of the opposition People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, or Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), on its soil. Tehran considers MEK a “terrorist” group.
Albania agreed in 2013 to take in members of the MEK at the request of Washington and the United Nations, with thousands settling in the Balkan country over the years.
Meanwhile, Iran has accused the United States of fanning the flames of conflict after the US slapped sanctions on its intelligence ministry as Washington threw its weight behind Albania.
The US announced sanctions on Friday on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and its minister Esmail Khatib for Tehran’s alleged involvement.
Prime Minister Rama on Wednesday accused Iran of directing a cyberattack against Albanian institutions on July 15 in a bid to “paralyse public services and hack data and electronic communications from the government systems”.
It was the first time Tirana spoke about the alleged attack.
“The Council of Ministers has decided on the severance of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran with immediate effect,” said Rama.
“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.”
The prime minister went on to say that Iranian diplomats and embassy staff had 24 hours to leave the country.