Albania hires US firm to beef up cybersecurity after leaks

Albanian government says it will hire a US firm to bolster its cybersecurity

TIRANA, Albania — The Albanian government said on Tuesday it would hire a U.S. company to bolster its cybersecurity following a massive leak last month.

The country and Virginia-based Jones International Group signed a memorandum of understanding in Tirana, the Albanian capital, “on the enhancement of the security of digital systems,” Prime Minister Eddie Rama said.

The Jones Group, led by retired General James L. Jones – a former national security adviser and top Allied commander in Europe – will first “scan our systems across the board to examine how they are being attacked at home and abroad”, said infrastructure minister Belinda Baruku said.

It will then plan a strategy for how to install a multi-layered protection system to prevent cyber-attacks in a country where people can find more than 90 percent of public administration services online.

In December, the personal information of about 690,000 people, including ID numbers and employment and salary data, was leaked from the government’s database of state and private employees. This data is widely shared through messaging applications. Four public and private officials were arrested and then released amid ongoing investigations.

Another leak of ID records in a national database occurred ahead of Albania’s parliamentary elections in April.

Albania has been a NATO member since 2009 and expects the EU to agree to someday start formal negotiations on its full membership in the 27-nation group.