Cyberattack forces online public services to shut down in Albania

Albania has been forced to shut down government websites and an online portal used to access a range of services due to a cyberattack.

Online public services and websites in Albania went offline after a massive cyberattack over the weekend.

The government was forced to shut down the websites of the prime minister’s office and parliament in order to deal with the attack, according to a statement from the Albanian National Agency for Information Society.

The country has shut down the government portal e-Albania, which is used to access a range of public services, The Register reported.

According to EURACTIV, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education have also been affected, with the latter suspending online registration of schoolchildren.

A government statement claimed that information systems are backed up and secure, while personal data should not have been affected as the cyberattack did not breach the systems.

It’s unclear how long government systems will be offline, or who was behind the cyberattack. Albanian media claimed the attack bore similarities to incidents committed in Ukraine to disrupt critical systems.

Oliver Pinson-Roxburgh, CEO of cybersecurity platform Defense.com, said while there have been instances of “independent hacking groups” targeting nations in the past, it’s unusual for such a group is able to operate on this scale.

“Nation-state actors, on the other hand, certainly have the capabilities to target and disrupt the digital operations of other countries,” he added. “As disruption appears to be the ambition of this incident, rather than financial gain, a nation-state actor appears the most likely culprit in this attack.”

Pinson-Roxburgh said the fact that an entire country’s digital infrastructure could be disrupted should serve as a “stern warning” to organizations.

“Companies need to monitor any overflow in their systems, adopting a defense-in-depth approach that combines everything from monitoring to employee training.”

Costa Rica was facing a ransomware attack earlier this year by notorious hacking group Conti, with an attack that severely affected the country’s foreign trade.

The Conti Group was behind the HSE ransomware incident in 2021 which affected over 80% of healthcare IT infrastructure across Ireland.

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