An Iran-linked hacking group claimed responsibility for an attack on Albania’s Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), leading to the postponement of official statistics release. The agency stated that recent census data was not accessed, but the hackers claimed to have obtained 100 terabytes of geographic information and population data. Despite the attack, INSTAT reported that immediate actions were taken to disable internet connections and notify relevant authorities.
Albania’s cyber agency, AKCESK, formed a group of experts to collaborate with the state police and aid INSTAT in recovering affected systems. An Iranian wiper malware, No-Justice, was discovered in previous attacks on Albanian parliament, telecom companies, and the country’s air carrier, with researchers speculating that the Homeland Justice group is likely state-sponsored. This is not the first time that Homeland Justice has targeted Albania, as they launched their first campaign against the country last July. The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied these accusations in the past.
The infrastructure owned by INSTAT is not considered critical, and thus falls outside the control of AKCESK. There is no mention of Homeland Justice’s involvement in the attack from either INSTAT or Albanian cyber officials. However, cybersecurity researchers believe that the group is an “Iranian psychological operation group.” A spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the country’s involvement in any attack targeting Albania.