Global developments, especially in the last 10 years, in the field of technology and information, found Albania almost unprepared to respond in time and with the necessary logistics to this rapid trend, putting it in front of great challenges. After the 2000s, Albania initially undertook a series of urgent legal measures and then they were followed by institutional reforms to respond to the needs in this area.
Among the main legislative developments that accompanied the aforementioned decade in our country, were those for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, the so-called Budapest Convention, amendments to the Criminal Code to combat piracy and illegal intrusion into computer networks, improvement of legislation on personal data protection and electronic communications, etc. The above legislative measures have been accompanied by other sectoral strategies of cyber protection and security, which have been approved and implemented periodically and continue to be followed by the relevant institutions.
In the institutional framework, Albania adopted special defence structures in the field of cybercrime, creating special units in the Ministry of Defense, the State Police, as well as other offices with specialized groups in the Prosecution, the Bank of Albania, etc. Meanwhile, in this context, new public institutions were established, which had in the focus of their activity also cybercrime and protection of property and personal data. For illustration we can mention the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection, the National Authority for Electronic Certification and Cyber Security, the National Agency for Cyber Security, etc.
From the periodic data reported by the Office of the General Prosecutor on the crime situation in Albania, it is noted that cybercrime has begun to have a significant increase in the field of criminal offenses of a sophisticated technological nature. During 2020, it was found that crimes of a cyber nature have increased by 35% since 2019. Also, the index of these offenses for 2019 was 4.02, while for 2020 it is 5.48. The most common criminal offenses in this area are those against cyber security of banks, national security networks and personal data stored in electronic archives of public institutions. For the first time during 2021, the Minister of Defense of Albania, reported to the Assembly that Albania was seriously threatened by frequent hacking, which had a ransomware nature.
For all the above reasons, Albania needs to increase technological security measures, the annual budget of cyber vigilance institutions and the training of specialized resources in this field in cooperation with partner countries.
Professor Ervin Karamuço is a public safety expert. He is a lecturer in the Criminal Department of the Faculty of Law of the University of Tirana.
Published with permission from the Vicinity online portal. Vicinity is an open platform, available to all those from the region, or the Western Balkans, whose voice needs amplifying, and who are eager to express their critical perspective, fresh ideas, and points of view on current affairs. Vicinity is a common initiative of the European Fund for Balkans and the European Fund in Serbia.