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Business Recorder

Published Date: Jan 22, 2016

On lack of cyber security

As the computerization of Pakistan has increased over the years so has the problem of cyber security. Without a doubt in recent years, the internet has created linkages between economic growth and national security. That is why it is important to have a technological infrastructure in Pakistan to respond to any cyber threats.
However, it is not only sad but outright dangerous that Pakistan lags behind in cyber security significantly among neighbouring countries like India and Iran. Pakistan lacks any vision, leadership, infrastructure and any well-defined policy in this matter. In recent days, the cyber security experts have once again started to emphasise the need to refocus and take this issue seriously.
With the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) for fighting terrorism, it is high time also to focus on looming threat of cyber security and cyber attacks on the horizon. At a recent event by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), the former Additional Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Ammar Jaffri said that the criminals of today have the complete understanding of the internet and related technology, adding that the banned outfits have an excellent cyber network such as speed, security and global linkages.
Leading experts in the field of cyber crimes and security in the country argue that the government could not ensure the cyber security by shutting or blocking the websites. All it does is to isolate the country further as we have seen in the case of YouTube. Barrister Zahid Jamil an expert in cyber crimes in an event on cyber security recently at Pakistan Institute of International Affairs argues that fighting the cyber security does not mean to block or shut down the threat, rather it meant to fight that issue while making sure that the connectivity stays active.
The corporate sector of Pakistan has also not done enough to deal with this issue. Information security probably isn’t something that gets a lot of executive attention. Even in today’s corporate world, cyber security still considered a purely technical matter in Pakistan.
The critical infrastructure protection is the vital need for national security. According to Mr Jaffri nation’s legacy industrial control systems were not designed with cyber security in mind. It means that nation’s national grid or other important instalments are under the constant threat of facing a cyber attack.
But the major issue in dealing with cyber security is that it can’t be done in isolation. The Internet by default is global, and we cannot survive in isolation. Pakistan has not signed the global cybercrime convention which is also known as the Budapest Convention. The cybercrime convention is the right way to address the issues of cyber crimes. Similarly, Pakistan desperately needs Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in this sector since they are essential to deal with this matter. Europe has successfully implemented PPP in its practices and Pakistan should take steps towards it.
On the other hand, Pakistan should take first steps towards engaging the SAARC nation in creating an effective cyber security policy at the regional level. In 2014, the eight-member grouping agreed to establish a cybercrime monitoring desk to check and stop trans-national high-tech illegal activities. But, in the next SAARC summit in Islamabad Pakistan should focus on a regional cyber security agenda and make sure SAARC goes beyond monitoring desk.