Amid Growing Cyber Threat, Experts Urge Montenegro to Invest in Talent

Experts see raising awareness among members of the public as vital to minimising the impact of such scams, but, said Adis Balota, a professor at the Faculty of Information Technologies in Podgorica, "alone this will not solve the cyber security problem".

In August last year, a major cyber assault on Montenegrin state institutions paralysed parts of the public sector and underscored the tiny NATO country's vulnerability to cybercrime.

Almost a year on, experts like Balota say Montenegro must invest much more in its defences and in recruiting the IT security expertise that the public sector currently lacks.

"Unfortunately, from the negative examples of the past year, it can be concluded that the state information systems are currently the most threatened," Balota told BIRN.

"I'm of the opinion that in order to solve this problem, the government of Montenegro should make a strategic departure from the current way of developing, implementing and maintaining information systems in state bodies."

Montenegro's Cyber Incident Response Team, CIRT, data on cyber attacks since 2011. Infographic: BIRN/Igor Vujcic.

Experts needed

The August 2022 attack infected dozens of computers in 10 state institutions and knocked offline a host of public services.

Within days, the National Security Agency pointed the finger of blame at Russia, which Montenegro has long accused of trying to thwart its Western integration ambitions, but offered no evidence; then a cabinet minister said it was in fact the work of Cuba Ransomware, a cybercrime extortion group.

Months later, the National Security Council announced that, "given the specific nature and complexity" of the attack, it had been unable to determine...

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