U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced sanctions Friday against Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, or MOIS, for a cyberattack launched against Albania’s government computer systems in July.
In a statement, Blinken said, “In July 2022, cyber attackers determined to be sponsored by the Government of Iran and its MOIS disrupted Albanian government computer systems, forcing the government to suspend public services for its citizens.”
In a separate statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said in addition to conducting malicious cyber activity against Albanian government websites, the MOIS, led by Minister of Intelligence, Esmail Khatib, also committed cyber-espionage and ransomware attacks in support of Iran’s political goals.
The Treasury statement said Iran also is behind the leaking of documents purported to be from the Albanian government and personal information associated with Albanian residents.
Under the sanctions, the Treasury Department said all property and interests in property belonging to the MOIS and, specifically, Khatib, subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
In his statement, Blinken said since at least 2007, Iran’s MOIS and its cyber-attacking proxies have conducted malicious cyber operations targeting a range of government and private-sector organizations across various critical infrastructure sectors.
He said Iran’s cyberattacks can cause grave damage to these governments’ abilities to provide services to civilians and disregard the norms of responsible peacetime state behavior in cyberspace.
Blinken added, “The United States will continue to use all appropriate tools to counter cyberattacks against the United States and our allies.”