In recent years, Montenegro has experienced a surge in cyber threats, with phishing attacks targeting individuals and state institutions becoming more common.
According to Montenegro’s Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT), there were 684 reported incidents last year, up from 672 in 2021 and just one in 2011. Malware attacks were the most prevalent type of cyber-attack. Experts emphasize the importance of raising public awareness to minimize the impact of such scams. However, addressing the cybersecurity problem requires more significant investments in defense capabilities and the recruitment of IT security experts in the public sector, which currently lacks adequate expertise.
Major cyber assaults
Montenegro’s vulnerability to cybercrime was underscored by a major cyber assault on state institutions in August 2022. The attack paralyzed parts of the public sector and infected computers in 10 state institutions. Although Russia was initially blamed for the attack, no conclusive evidence was provided. Montenegro’s National Security Council, with the assistance of the FBI and the French National Cybersecurity Agency, ANSSI, was unable to determine the exact perpetrator due to the attack’s complexity. This high-profile incident was part of a broader trend of cyber threats targeting various sectors in Montenegro.
Need for top cybersecurity experts
Experts stress the need for Montenegro to invest more in cybersecurity defenses and recruit highly specialized IT security experts. However, the current salary levels in the public sector are insufficient to attract and retain these professionals. Establishing a clear recruitment strategy and providing financial resources through the state budget or international projects could help address this issue. Additionally, experts recommend the creation of a centralized body or institution at the state level to coordinate and manage IT projects across state and administrative bodies. Continuous training and preparedness are crucial, as cyber threats are expected to become increasingly aggressive and consequential in the future.
Struggle for cybersecurity
Montenegro has faced significant cyber threats since 2016, including denial-of-service attacks and cyber espionage incidents. These attacks have often been attributed to Russia, particularly during periods of geopolitical tensions.
Balota, an expert in the field, calls for a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, involving coordinated efforts, resource monitoring, and the measurement of implemented solutions. He emphasizes the urgent need to prepare for increasingly aggressive and sophisticated cyber-attacks, highlighting the importance of a centralized body or institution to manage IT projects and ensure the rational use of available resources.