Albanian Minister of Defense Niko Peleshi has announced the Ministry will set up a Cyber Defense Unit in direct response to the growing number of cyberattacks in the country.
“We are a NATO country in the region; we have rivals and competitors. Certain interests meet and want to destabilize our constitutional order and our defense system, or even test our reaction against these attacks,” said Peleshi.
According to him, it’s not just the government that is under attack. Private companies are also falling foul to hackers and ransomware. This is where hackers gain access to a company’s system and demand the payment of a large sum of money to return it to its original state.
“From the various information and intelligence sources I have, many private companies are constantly attacked by hackers inside and outside the country, who impose financial fines in exchange for restoring systems,” Peleshi added.
He claimed that the country had “modest” defense capabilities but that the Ministry of Defense plans to set up a Cyber Defense Unit with the help of the US.
Peleshi did not give more details on the unit in question or when it will become operational.
It’s also unclear whether this unit will do anything to prevent the vast number of attacks from Albania. The country is currently the 5th biggest source of cybercrime in Europe, accounting for 11.79% of all cyberattacks on the continent.
This data came from Atlas VPN who analyzed the number of incidents reported in European countries, especially malware.
Belarus took the top spot with 19.02%, followed by Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and then Albania.
According to Atlas, Albania is responsible for at least 1.3 million attacks per year, or almost 4,000 a day.
The data showed that attacks were more prevalent during the week than at the weekends. In fact, there was a 26% drop in the number of attacks on Saturdays, suggesting that cybercriminals like to take the weekend off.
The greatest threat across the top five countries were Trojan Horses and Ransomware which can make changes to the device’s system, leaving an open door for hackers to steal private data. Ransomware can also demand payments in return for unlocking a computer or device.
In April 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, Exit News fell victim to a “highly sophisticated” cyber attack. Hackers took down the site for several hours, and anyone trying to access it was redirected to spam sites with “unsafe content.” Meanwhile, they attempted to delete the entire database, including five years’ worth of articles.
The IT team was able to regain control of the site and prevent damage from being done. They said it was unlike any attack they had seen before and was highly sophisticated.
In February of this year, the government unveiled its five-year National Cybersecurity Strategy. This included ensuring better protection for state and official networks, improving the legal frameworks to protect citizens, and enhancing measures to combat cybercrime and the use of the internet for illegal means.