US imposes sanctions on Iran for cyber activities
On Friday, the United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and its minister, accusing them of being involved in a disruptive July cyber attack on Albania and participating in into other cyber operations against the United States and its allies.
The move comes after Albania severed diplomatic ties with Iran on Wednesday over the incident, requiring Iranian diplomats and embassy staff to leave within 24 hours.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement that Iran’s Intelligence Ministry directs several networks of cyber threat actors, including those involved in pro-government ransomware and cyber espionage attacks. Iran.
“We will not tolerate Iran’s increasingly aggressive cyber activities,” Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.
The department has been designated under US sanctions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added in a statement.
Iran dismisses the sanctions as ineffective and politically motivated.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said: “Like previous illegal US sanctions against the Ministry of Intelligence, this new label will never be able to create the slightest obstacle to the determination of the Iranian people’s security servicemen in this proud institution.”
“The US statement of immediate support for the Albanian government’s false accusations against Iran … clearly shows that the US government designed this scenario against Iran,” Iranian state media said. quoted Kanaani as saying.
Microsoft, whose cybersecurity research team helped investigate the incident, said in a blog post https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2022/09/08/microsoft-investigates-iranian- attacks-against-the-albanian- government on Thursday that Iran’s cyber activity involved a combination of digital espionage techniques, data erasing malware and online disinformation activities . According to the researchers, the goal of the hackers appeared to be to embarrass Albanian government officials.
The attacks in July temporarily disrupted government websites and other public services. Analysts say the operation is intended to punish Albania for supporting an Iranian dissident group based in the country, known as Mujahedin-e Khalq.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Chris Bing in Washington; additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at United Nations and Dubai; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Chizu Nomiyama and Raju Gopalakrishnan)