TIRANA, Albania (AP) — NATO sent a senior-level delegation to Albania on Wednesday to help the tiny Western Balkan country cope with the consequences of recent cyberattack that the government blamed on Iran.
NATO said James Appathurai, the alliance's deputy assistant secretary general, led a team of experts to offer the member nation “political and practical support” and to tell officials from Albania’s defense and other security institutions they were not dealing with the attack alone.
Albania cut diplomatic ties with Iran over a July 15 cyberattack that temporarily shut down numerous Albanian government digital services and websites. Prime Minister Edi Rama called the disruption an act of “state aggression.”
After Rama's government expelled the Iranian Embassy staff stationed in Tirana, a second cyberattack from the same Iranian source struck an information system that records border entries and exits, creating difficulties and delays for travelers, according to Albanian authorities.
Defense Minister Niko Peleshi said his ministry and Albania's army were not affected “because they are separate from the general network of communication.”
Appathurai said NATO would help Albania coordinate support from its Brussels headquarters and from other member nations to deal with immediate challenges and long-term requirements.
“You can be sure of NATO’s continued political and practical support,” he said.
NATO, the United States and the European Union denounced the attack and supported Albania’s move to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran. The U.S. government imposed sanctions on Iran’s intelligence agency and its leadership in response to the July cyberattack.