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Iran intelligence ministry sanctioned by US for Albania's cyberattack 

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Friday against Iran's intelligence minister and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for conducting malicious online activities that put the national security of the United States and its allies at risk.

According to OFAC, Esmail Khatib, the MOIS' director, oversees networks that carry out cyberespionage and ransomware operations against foreign nations in order to further Iran's political objectives. The regulator explicitly referred to the July computer system interruption of the Albanian government, which the MOIS and the Iranian government are suspected of orchestrating according to the US.

OFAC claimed that from at least 2007, "malicious cyber operations" carried out by Iran and its proxies have attacked other governments and commercial groups all around the world.

In a press release, Brian Nelson, the Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that Iran's cyberattack 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."

President Barack Obama's executive order from April 2015 indicates that OFAC may impose financial and economic penalties on people, groups, and government institutions who utilize the internet as a weapon for terrorism.

According to OFAC, MuddyWater, an Iranian-sponsored cyberterrorist outfit, has been conducting operations against private companies, governments, and other targets since 2018. This includes the Turkish government. According to the regulator, APT39 is a different group that has committed massive identity theft in an effort to support possible government monitoring of Iranian residents.

Iran is already listed as a sanctioned country by OFAC due to its terrorism funding and abuses of its own citizens' human rights.

Due to OFAC's measures on Friday, dealings with Khatib and the MOIS are generally forbidden for U.S. citizens. The United States has barred all of their property that falls under its purview, and only with a special permit from OFAC can it be transited through the nation.

According to OFAC, any non-American individuals or companies that do financial transactions with Khatib or the MOIS risk having their names added to the sanctions list.


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