Personal and salary data for 637,138 Albanian citizens, over one-fifth of the country’s population, was leaked online at the end of December.
The leak followed another massive leak of personal data ahead of the April 25, 2021 general election to the ruling Socialist Party, raising serious concerns about the security of Albanians’ personal data.
The government confirmed the latest leak in a statement on December 22, and Prime Minister Edi Rama issued an apology.
The leak included names, ID card numbers, salaries and employment details. It was shared in an Excel document over WhatsApp.
Local media reported it appeared to be a compilation of data from various sources, which was confirmed by government officials.
Government spokesperson Endri Fuga said in a statement on December 22 that the data did not appear to have been exported from the payroll database.
“The Ministry of Finance and Economy has been following with concern the alleged leak of the monthly salaries of Albanian citizens. The preliminary probe clearly shows that no digital export of the payroll database has taken place from January to April 2021 on the leaked document. The document ... is a combination of several different pieces,” Fuga said in a statement.
The following day, Rama issued an apology for the leak. "I would like to apologise to all those who are rightly concerned about this intrusion into their private life and in the meantime, I would emphasise that this event deserves a thorough investigation,” the prime minister said on December 23.
He added that “the preliminary probe shows it looks much more like an internal intervention rather than an external one in the form of a cyber-attack”.
The leak is now being investigated by Tirana prosectors, who are expected to probe the Tax Directorate and the Social Insurance Institute to see where the leak originated.
The data is now being widely circulated online, raising fears it will be used by scammers and other criminals to target Albanian citizens.