Albania has been targeted by massive cyberattack that has caused the shutdown of online government services.
There has been no official comment on who was behind the attack, though some Albanian media outlets have blamed Russia. A Nato member, Albania is a vocal supporter of Ukraine and part of the Western sanctions on Russia.
Albania’s National Agency for Information Society (AKSHI) announced on July 17 that Albania was facing a sophisticated cyberattack from outside the country. As of early afternoon on July 18, AKSHI’s own website was not accessible.
According to AKSHI, Microsoft, Jones Group International and local IT companies have been working to combat the cyberattack and prevent further damage to Albanian security and information systems.
The government confirmed on the morning of July 18 that the country is facing a massive cybernetic attack.
“This criminal cyber-attack was synchronised … from outside Albania,” said the statement.
“In order to not allow this attack to damage our information system, the National Agency of Information Society had temporarily shut down online services and other government websites.”
The Albanian government took most public services including tax payment online via the e-Albania portal as of May 1 while in-person service windows in government offices and other institutions were shut down.
The move is intended to make it more convenient for citizens to access services and reduce corruption but at the time concerns were voiced about how elderly people and those without access to the internet would manage.
Opposition leader Sali Berisha slammed the government over the cyberattack in a strongly-worded Facebook post.
“Albania has today been caught in a massive cyber attack on the e-albania portal, as never before. [The portal] contains the most important information of every Albanian citizen, which is already under threat of illegal use by unknown authors,” Berisha wrote.
“How can this government, which has forcibly turned the e-albania portal to turn into a "digital institution" for almost every important document, allow such a criminal act? How can such initiatives be undertaken without having a professional cybercrime police officer? How can [Prime Minister] Edi Rama and his government play with citizens' privacy in this way?”