Albania has repeatedly had to deal with cyber-attacks believed to happen because it has sheltered an Iranian dissident group called Mujahedeen Khalq (M.E.K). The cyber attacks started when government servers were stealthily penetrated in 2021. However, in 2022, the cyber attacks began to cause disruption.

Washington’s polarized politics are also playing a role in the Albanian cyber attacks. Reports indicate that prominent Republican hawks in Iran are strong backers of M.E.K. The Albanian government hired Microsoft to investigate the issue. In a report concerning the attack, Microsoft stated that it happened because of actors that the Iranian government has sponsored, and M.E.K is the key target.

The report added that the campaign against Albania was likely retaliation for cyberattacks that Iran perceives Mujahedeen Khald and Israel carried out. Albania has a huge Muslim population that is mostly secular. In September 2022, Albania cut its relationship with Iran, an Islamic Republic. It expelled its diplomats as a response to what experts claim is the most disruptive cyber attack on a NATO member in Europe since 2007 when Russia made concerted attacks on computer networks in Estonia.

The cyber attack on Albania has affected the government’s activities and sought to undermine people’s trust in financial institutions. People see this as a great threat in a nation that went into a civil war in 1997 following the collapse of fraudulent investment funds. The attack has also caused the leak of a lot of confidential information.

Nikeo Peleshi, Albania’s Defense Minister, stated that a military cyber defense unit will be operational and will complete all its human capacities. He added that the Ministry of Defense would increase the number of security professionals and raise their salaries.