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Albania accuses Iran of major cyber attack, terminates all diplomatic ties

Albania has cut diplomatic ties with Iran after accusing it of orchestrating a major cyber attack.

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Thu, 08 Sep 2022
Albania accuses Iran of major cyber attack, terminates all diplomatic ties
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Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama revealed a probe had found "incontrovertible evidence" that Iran "hired four groups to mount the attack on Albania" on 15 July.

It appears that the hackers tried to paralyse public services, delete and steal government data, and incite chaos, Rama added.

Albania has now ordered Iranian diplomats and embassy staff to leave within 24 hours.

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According to the BBC, Iran rejected the Albanian Prime Minister's claims as "baseless".

The decision to expel the diplomats has been labelled as "anti-Iranian", suggesting in a statement that "third parties" may have been involved in coming up with the accusations, Iran's state news agency reported.

The decision has been described by Albania's leader as "extreme" asserting it was "entirely forced on us".

Relations between Tirana and Tehran have been tense since Albania offered asylum to thousands of Iranian dissidents.

In a televised statement, Rama asserted that the goal of the hacking groups had been "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".

"The said attack failed its purpose ... all systems came back fully operational and there was no irreversible wiping of data," Rama added.

The Albanian government's decision to sever diplomatic relations with Iran, Rama explained, was "proportionate to the seriousness and danger posed by the cyber attack".

The United States has vowed to hold Iran accountable for actions that threatened Albania's security, strongly condemning the cyber attack on a NATO member.

American experts had also concluded that Iran "conducted this reckless and irresponsible cyber attack", according to US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson, asserting it was "responsible for subsequent hack and leak operations".

Iran's conduct, Watson warned, "disregards norms of responsible peacetime state behaviour in cyber space".

[Related: Over half of Aussie firms’ supply chains impacted by ransomware]

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