Iran’s Cyberattacks on Albania Highlight NATO’s Cyber Gaps

Iran’s Cyberattacks on Albania Highlight NATO’s Cyber Gaps
A policeman stands guard outside the Iranian Embassy in Tirana, Albania, Sept. 7, 2022 (AP photo by Franc Zhurda).

In July and September, Albania suffered two cyberattacks attributed by the U.S. to Iranian state cyber actors. Albania cut diplomatic relations with Iran after the first attack, for which the U.S. also sanctioned Iran’s spy agency. And according to Prime Minister Edi Rama, the attacks were so ferocious that Albania, a NATO member, considered invoking the alliance’s Article 5 collective defense clause.

Iran’s grievance with Albania can be traced back to the thousands of Iranian dissidents who have been granted asylum in the country. This includes 3,000 members of Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK—a group whose aim is to overthrow the Islamic Republic—who live in a refugee camp in Albania.

But Albania is not Iran’s first victim. Among the world’s cyber powers, the Iranians have been among the most aggressive in using hacking for coercion. And while still relatively unskilled, Iran is a dangerous cyber actor.

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