Albania hires US company to boost cybersecurity after leak

Technology

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The Albanian government said Tuesday that it would hire a U.S. company to bolster its cybersecurity following a large leak last month.

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

The Jones Group — headed by retired Gen. James L. Jones, former national security adviser and supreme allied commander in Europe — would first make a “full scanning of our systems to check how they are exposed to domestic and foreign attacks,” Infrastructure Minister Belinda Balluku said.

It would then plan a strategy of how to install multilayer protective systems to prevent cyberattacks in a country where people can find more than 90% of their public administration services online.

In December, the personal information of some 690,000 people, including identity card numbers and employment and salary data, was leaked from a government database of state and private employees. The data was shared widely through messaging apps. Four public and private officials were arrested, then released amid an ongoing investigation.

Another leak of identity card records from a state database occurred ahead of Albania’s parliamentary elections in April.

Albania has been a NATO member since 2009 and is expecting the European Union to agree to launch formal negotiations on its full membership to the 27-nation bloc one day.

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