Albania breaks diplomatic ties with Iran and expels embassy staff

Albania breaks diplomatic ties with Iran and expels embassy staff

 Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the government's decision was formally conveyed to the Iranian Embassy in the capital Tirana, in an official document. All embassy staff, including diplomatic and security personnel, were ordered to leave Albania within 24 hours, The cyberattack on July 15 has temporarily shut down many digital services and Albanian government websites. 

Albania cut diplomatic ties with Iran and expelled the country's embassy staff over a massive cyberattack on Albanian government websites nearly two months ago, allegedly by Iran. VOA reports, Thursday (8/9). Albania, which is a NATO member state, was the first country to cut diplomatic ties because of the cyberattack. Rama said the investigation found that the cyberattack was not carried out by an independent individual or group, calling it "state aggression." The group calling itself "HomeLand Justice" claimed credit for the cyberattack that used ransomware to scramble the data. 

Ransomware is notorious for being frequently used by cybercriminals for extortion, but is now increasingly being used for political purposes, especially by Iran. The "HomeLand Justice" claim was submitted via the Telegram channel. The message was also accompanied by a document purported to be a residence permit for a member of the Iranian opposition group "Mujahedeen-e-Khalq" MEK, along with a video showing when the ransomware was activated. 

The channel accused corruption in Albania's government as the reason, and used the hashtag #Manez. In a video statement, Rama said "an in-depth investigation shows irrefutable evidence that a cyber attack against our country was orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran involving four groups in Albania." He added that his party is now working with Microsoft and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to further investigate the attack. Mandiant, a leading US cybersecurity firm, said there was "moderate belief" last month that the attackers acted to support Tehran's anti-dissident efforts.

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