Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama severed diplomatic relations with Iran and gave the Iranian mission 24 hours to get out. When mission personnel had vacated the premises in Tirana, he sent in counterintelligence officers to scour the premises and ascertain what might be learned.
Rama’s moves were prompted by an Iranian cyberattack on government digital services and web sites in July. The AP story quotes the video statement issued by Rama:
Rama said an investigation determined that the cyberattack wasn’t carried out by individuals or independent groups, calling it “state aggression.”
“The deep investigation put at our disposal undeniable evidence that the cyberattack against our country was orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran which had involved four groups for the attack on Albania[.]”
Rama’s video statement is posted here in English.
The cyberattack was the virtual equivalent of an act of war. Also quoting from Rama’s statement, the BBC notes Rama’s attribution of the hackers’ goal as “the destruction of the digital infrastructure of the government of the Republic of Albania, as well as the theft of data and electronic communications of governments systems[.]” Oh, and by the way: “[T]he Albanian government said the hackers’ methods was identical to attacks last year in other NATO countries, including Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Belgium.”
The AP story notes the apparent rationale supporting the Iranian attack: “Albania, a NATO member since 2009, shelters about 3,000 Iranian MEK dissidents who live at Ashraf 3 camp in Manez, which is 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Tirana.” (The BBC story has more on the MEK factor in the attack.) Good for Albania.
The American cybersecurity firm Mandiant was one of the organizations assisting in the investigation of the attack. “This is possibly the strongest public response to a cyberattack we have ever seen,” Mandiant vice president of intelligence John Hultquist said following Albania’s announcement. Again, good for Albania.
Seth Frantzman’s Jerusalem Post column explores the Iranian modus operandi and the impunity with which it has operated. NSC spokesman — former DNC staffer — Adrienne Watson issued a statement on the cyberattack that the White House has posted here. Watson vows: “The United States will take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace.” Believe it when we see it, but not until then.
In the meantime, the government of Israel has released the Director of the Mossad’s readout of his meetings with Biden administration officials in Washington (below).
Readout from Director of #Israel's Mossad's meetings in Washington this week: "During the meetings, the Director of the Mossad presented sensitive intelligence materials, and emphasized that Israel will not be able to stand idly by while #Iran continues to deceive the world." pic.twitter.com/hXb6QT2mkm
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) September 8, 2022