A massive cyber attack attacked Montenegro, which officials suspect was orchestrated by pro-Russian hackers and Moscow’s security agencies. The attack compelled the government to disconnect its computers from the Internet.
The coordinated attack, which began around August 20, disrupted the government’s online information systems and put Montenegro’s vital infrastructure, such as its banking, water, and electricity systems, in grave danger. According to the National Security Agency, Montenegro is under a hybrid war at the moment.
Russia has a compelling reason to carry out such an attack since Montenegro, which it long considered a close ally, joined NATO in 2017 over Kremlin opposition.
It has also joined Western sanctions on Moscow in response to the Ukraine invasion, prompting Moscow to label Montenegro a “enemy state,” along with many other countries that have joined the embargo.
The cyber attack was carried out by “coordinated Russian services,” according to the ANB or Agency for National Security. “This type of attack was carried out for the first time in Montenegro, and it had been planned for quite some time.”
On the other hand, a cybercriminal extortion gang has taken credit for at least some part of the attack; a Cuba ransomware variant compromised the systems at a parliamentary office.
“For nearly 20 days, we have been faced with major issues relating to the cyber attack, and the whole state system, the system of state administration, and the system of citizen services have been operating at a rather restrictive level,” Konjevic told The Associated Press.
He said that specialists from many nations are working to restore the computer system used by the Montenegrin government and identify the perpetrators of the attack.
Montenegro split away from larger Serbia in 2006 and is currently governed by an interim government that has lost parliamentary support as a result of Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic’s shady deals with the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church without the consent of the entire coalition that supported the government.