No confirmation that Russia is behind the cyberattack on Montenegro

The Prime Minister of the Montenegrin Government, Dritan Abazović, denied the allegations of the National Security Agency (ANB) that Russia is behind the frequent and powerful cyber attacks on the country’s institutions.

In an interview with Podgorica Vijesti, the prime minister in the technical mandate said that there is no confirmation of this.

– It seems to me that it was a hasty attitude of part of the institutions of the system, the deputy prime minister and the ANB that Russia is behind this because we have no official confirmation for this, nor were our international partners able to confirm or deny this matter – said Abazović.

When asked on what basis they expressed such a position, he said that it was politically motivated.

– I think that it was politically motivated on the part of the politicians, and that on the part of the Agency, as they explained to us, it indicated the methods used in some other countries. But if you come out with a harsh attitude, especially in the context of everything that’s happening in Ukraine, I think it’s a bit hasty,” Abazović said.

Namely, ANB previously announced that the IT structure of the government is under strong cyber attacks coordinated by Russian services.

The outgoing prime minister said that even before the formation of the minority government, there were cyber attacks and reports of bombs planted in schools, and that there was a lot of pressure on the security sector that it was incompetent, that it could not reveal, in the end it turned out that even minors did it.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will send Cyber ​​Action Teams (CAT) to Montenegro to assist in the investigation of recent cyber attacks on government digital infrastructure, the Montenegrin Ministry of the Interior announced on August 31, reports .

The cyberattacks, described by Montenegrin officials as unprecedented and, according to the US National Security Agency (NSA), carried out by Russian hackers, hit Montenegrin government services last week.

Public Administration Minister Maras Dukaj said 150 workstations in ten public institutions were infected. The government has not received any ransom requests for compromised materials.

Top police officials in NATO-member Montenegro met on Wednesday with the FBI legal attaché for Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro and agreed that CAT experts should assist in the investigation, the Montenegrin interior ministry said in a statement. According to media reports, France and NATO also promised to provide assistance.

The NSA suspects that Russia is behind the attacks, the attack could have been a retaliatory move after Montenegro acceded to European Union sanctions against Russia and expelled several Russian diplomats.

Previously, hackers also attacked Montenegro’s state digital infrastructure on election day in 2016, and then again for several months in 2017, when the former Yugoslav republic was about to join NATO.

READ: Abazović from Kiev: We have made Montenegro an important diplomatic player in the world

– I cannot say that the current attack is also benign, but it started immediately after the vote of no confidence in the government – ​​said Abazović.