Last July, Albania experienced a series of cyberattacks that seriously damaged the proper functioning of the government services (I will write about the connection to Israel and the cyber system between Israel and Iran and the connection to the incident).
Today the Prime Minister of Albania delivered a harsh speech. In it, he announced that following the identification of the attacks and the conclusion that the Iranian government was behind them, Albania decided to sever diplomatic ties with Iran.
The Prime Minister said, “This is an extreme but proportionate response to the risk and impact of Iran’s cyberattacks against the country, which led to the paralysis of public services, damage to the media, theft of information, and the creation of a sense of insecurity.”
Albania ordered all diplomatic representatives and employees of the Iranian embassy to leave the country within 24 hours.
The US and the UK joined in the public attribution and imposition of responsibility on Iran.
Iran has denied the accusations attributed to it.
Albania’s decision appears to be one of the most significant responses to a cyberattack we have seen so far.
Albania’s choice to reveal the information publicly by a senior figure such as the Prime Minister joins the US in leading the way in public strategy and public attribution and blame against countries that have carried out cyberattacks.
Studies on the subject – including my own – suggest several possible reasons for this publicity, including:
- An attempt to deter and convey a message – to the attacking country as well as to other countries – that their offensive actions are identifiable and “will not go quietly”.
- Publicity allows the US and other countries that share a similar set of values regarding acceptable behavior in cyberspace. This allows them to shape and influence the rules of conduct in the international arena which, although not yet officially written, are slowly beginning to emerge.
It can be estimated that in the near future, we will continue to see more and more countries publicly exposing and attributing cyberattacks against them. It is possible that Albania’s choice to respond so decisively at the diplomatic level will encourage other countries to act in a similar way. It will be interesting to see what the international impact will be.
Here are some links to Mandiant’s report and statements by the US and UK: