The US government on Friday imposed sanctions on Iran’s intelligence agency and its leadership in response to malicious cyberattacks on Albanian government computer systems in July.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control singled out Iran’s Intelligence and Security Ministry and Esmail Khatib, who heads the ministry, for what it said were cybersecurity-related activities against the United States. and their allies.
NATO member Albania severed diplomatic ties with Iran and expelled its embassy staff this week following the cyberattack.
It was the first known case of a country cutting diplomatic ties following a cyberattack.
The Albanian government has accused Iran of carrying out the July 15 attack, which temporarily shut down many Albanian government digital services and websites.
Microsoft, which helped Albania investigate the cyberattack, said in a blog post on Thursday that it was moderately confident the hackers belonged to a group that has been publicly linked to Iran’s intelligence and security ministry.
He said the attackers had been observed operating from Iran, were using tools previously used by known Iranian attackers, and had previously targeted other sectors and countries consistent with Iranian interests.
The destructive malware deployed was also previously used by a known Iranian actor, he said.
Iran’s cyberattack on Albania fails to meet standards for responsible state behavior in peacetime in cyberspace, Brian Nelson, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement. communicated.
We will not tolerate Iran’s increasingly aggressive cyber activities targeting the United States or our allies and partners,” he said.
Since at least 2007, Iran’s intelligence agency and its proxies have been accused of carrying out cyber operations targeting public and private entities around the world.
The Treasury, which uses an Obama-era executive order that targets people and entities that engage in malicious cyber activity as the authority to impose the sanctions, increased its financial sanctions against Iran this year.
It comes as President Joe Biden’s administration struggles to renew the tattered Iran nuclear deal, which put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which Iran insists on the fact that he never received.
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