Albania shuts down government websites, services due to wide ranging cyberattack

The government of Albania has been forced to take its websites offline due to a cyberattack, just a few months after shifting most public sector services to an online portal.

In a statement shared with local news outlets, Albania’s National Agency of Information Society said it was “forced to temporarily close access to online public services and other government websites” because of a “synchronized and sophisticated cybercriminal attack from outside Albania.”

Government officials did not respond to requests for comment about where the attacks have originated. In May, the Albanian government closed a multitude of in-person administrative offices, shifting public services to an online portal intended to be more efficient and less prone to corruption. Several news outlets noted that some government services are still functioning, including the country’s tax filing portal, which operates on a different server. 

“In order to withstand these unprecedented and dangerous strikes, we have been forced to shut down government systems until the enemy attacks are neutralized,” the agency said. 

The statement adds that the government is working with Microsoft, cybersecurity consulting company Jones International Group and several Albanian security companies “to prevent this cyber attack from damaging or compromising Albanian information systems.”

⚠️ Confirmed: #Albania's National Agency for Information Society (AKSHI) network has been temporarily shut down to counter a major cyberattack; real-time network data show service cut for hours beginning Saturday night, impacting online government services

— NetBlocks (@netblocks) July 17, 2022

NetBlocks, which tracks internet outages around the world, said real-time network data showed that service was first cut on Saturday, around 9 pm local time.

“Metrics tend to support the Prime Minister’s Office statement that describes this as a defensive measure to protect AKSHI against a targeted threat, rather than a direct impact of the kind we might see in a distributed denial of service attack,” NetBlocks Director Alp Toker explained. 

“Several government services including Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and e-government gateway used by businesses and citizens are hosted on the government network and have been sent offline.”

As of Monday afternoon, all government websites are still unreachable. 

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