Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Albanian IT government systems suffering by a major cyber attack

Just a few days back, one news that has been spreading rapidly throughout Europe was the major cyber-attack on the Albanian government, which resulted in the temporary suspension of all digital services for a few days.

This is dated to be one of the most significant hits that Albania has suffered regarding cyber defense. On Saturday 23rd, different IT government systems stopped functioning, creating confusion among citizens. According to press releases from the government, the state suffered a complicated and sophisticated malicious attack that managed to affect the infrastructure of the National Agency of Information Service or AKSHI, which is responsible for handling the infrastructure of all governmental services.

The Albanian National Agency of the Information Society (AKSHI) has been forced to shut down government systems after falling prey to a cyberattack that is thought to have come from outside the country.

AKSHI described the attack to local news outlets as “a synchronized and sophisticated cybercriminal attack.” The organization went on to say that in response to the attack, they had been “forced to shut down government systems until the enemy attacks are neutralized.” Due to this, access to online public services and other government websites is temporarily closed.

Albanian government

Many systems forced to shut down

The shutdown has affected the websites of parliament and the prime minister’s office, as well as e-Albania—the government portal that all Albanians, as well as foreign residents and investors, use to access a slew of public services.

The methods used by these malicious actors are similar to [attacks] observed in the international cyberspace…Fortunately, the rapid detection and response to these attacks meant that government systems emerged unscathed,” was a statement in a press release from the government on Monday.

The attack is thought to be ransomware, which has impacted the agency’s infrastructure, compromising different governmental systems. Even though there is not yet a written statement from the National Agency of Information Society with the precise post-attack report, the national cyber defense team is currently working on finding leads and managing to recover what has been affected.

After the attack, AKSHI has reportedly been working with Microsoft, Jones Group International, and teams within Albania who work in information and communications technology to prevent the “unprecedented and dangerous” attack from compromising or damaging the systems.

Unfortunately for Albania, this is the second time the state has faced security issues regarding data protection and privacy scandals, resulting in an impact on IT governmental systems. In the last 18 months, there have been different security scandals. In the public realm, we mention leaks from government institutions that have seen the names, phone numbers, car registration plates, employers, salaries, and more.

On this matter, Todd Carroll, CISO at CybelAngel, commented by saying that the Albanian government could be a tempting target for multiple threat actors: “Albania has a history of data security issues that are only exacerbated by the over-collection of its citizen’s data, compared with those countries subject to EU standards. So, it is not surprising that they are under attack. Once you lose access to your data, you lose the ability to determine ‘how access was gained’ and ‘what was accessed or is being accessed.'”

Kristi Shehu
Kristi Shehu
My name is Kristi and I am a Cyber Security engineer and a freelance cyber analyst writer, based in Tirana Albania. I write about technology on online Medias, with a focus on cyber news and the latest trends in the security world, as seen from the POV of a cyber-professional. I love sharing my thoughts and opinions about different cyber topics, emerging technologies evolving in cyber-tech companies or Startups around the world. So, if you ever feel like sharing your work, projects, or your new up and running Startup, feel free to drop me a line.

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