The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and its minister after accusing them of being tied to a cyberattack against Albania and engaging in other cyber attacks against the United States.
In a statement, the US Treasury said, “Iran’s cyber attack against Albania disregards norms of responsible peacetime State behavior in cyberspace, which includes a norm on refraining from damaging critical infrastructure that provides services to the public. We will not tolerate Iran’s increasingly aggressive cyber activities targeting the United States or our allies and partners.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani fired back saying, “Like previous illegal U.S. sanctions against the Ministry of Intelligence, this new label will never be able to create the slightest hinder in the determination of the Iranian people’s security servicemen in this proud institution. The announcement of immediate U.S. support for the Albanian government’s false accusation against Iran… clearly shows that it is the U.S. government that has designed this scenario against Iran.”
The sanctions come days after Albania ended diplomatic relations with Iran over the incident. The country ordered all Iranian diplomats and embassy staff to leave the country within 24 hours.
Microsoft’s cybersecurity research team helped uncover the cyberattack from Iran. In a blog post, the company said the Iranian cyber operation involved a mix of digital espionage techniques, data wiping malware, and online information operations. The investigators say the objective of the hackers appeared to be to embarrass Albanian government officials.