Albania’s Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) fell victim to a hacking attack in which some of its systems were compromised. The attack took place on Wednesday, prompting the institute to activate emergency protocols and launch an investigation to assess the extent of the damage caused by the breach.
Local authorities were notified of the cyberattack, and INSTAT has assured the public that the 2023 Census data has not been compromised. The technical team at INSTAT acted swiftly to protect the data and prevent further destruction. The organization also announced that it will continue its statistical activities and utilize alternative means of communication.
The attack has been attributed to a threat actor linked to Iran, specifically the hacker group Homeland Justice. The group claimed that it had access to over 100 Terabytes of GIS and census data from the INSTAT, although it is yet to be verified whether any data was actually compromised.
This incident is not the first time Albania has been targeted by Iranian hackers. In the past, Albania’s National Authority for Electronic Certification and Cyber Security (AKCESK) revealed that cyber attacks hit the Assembly of the Republic of Albania and telecom company One Albania. The Iranian hacker group Homeland Justice also claimed responsibility for these attacks and asserted that they had also hacked Air Albania.
This pattern of cyber attacks has strained relations between Albania and Iran. Albania previously interrupted diplomatic ties with Iran and expelled the country’s embassy staff over a cyber attack in mid-2022. The United States government has condemned Iran for attacking Albania and has called for Iran to be held accountable for these actions.
In this latest attack on INSTAT, Albania’s cyber agency (AKCESK) and state police are collaborating with the institute to recover the affected systems and investigate the breach. The Iranian government has been formally blamed by NATO and the U.K. for the cyberattacks on Albania, and the U.S. Treasury Department has announced sanctions against Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its Minister of Intelligence.
It is evident that these cyber attacks pose a serious threat to Albania’s national security and have drawn strong condemnation and retaliatory actions from the international community. As the investigation into the INSTAT breach continues, it remains to be seen how Albania and its allies will respond to these hostile acts in cyberspace.