Center Of Pakistan And International Relations (COPAIR), Islamabad Hosted An Online Conference, Titled “Cyberspace: The Future Territory Of National Security”

Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) invited foreign speakers having different professional backgrounds and vibrant experiences in the field of cybersecurity on 22 October 2020 at the virtual conference focused on Cybersecurity as a new domain for national security. The purpose of the three-hour-long session was to gather insights from these technical experts and academics for the policy formulation of cybersecurity for Pakistan.

Mr Awais Siddique, the moderator of the session, welcomed the panellists and participants on behalf of the Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR). He briefs the audience about COPAIR initiatives and policy advocacy campaigns for establishing a comprehensive policy of cybersecurity in Pakistan. Mr Awais highlighted the COPAIR’s key focus on other emerging technologies and appreciated the untiring efforts of President Amna Malik for the cause.

Mr Ammar Jaffri, Former Additional DG FIA and a distinguished Member of Prime Minister Task Force on Cyber Security was the first speaker of the session. He set the tone of the conference by elucidating on the subject of cyberspace and emerging challenges for national security. His topic of speech as “Cyberspace: The new war front” and he highlighted the role of nascent technologies like AI, Big-data, IoT etc. and their implications on the securitization of cyberspace. He was of the view that with the advancement in technology and expansion in the user-base of cyber, the country will have to adopt a comprehensive framework to secure the national cyberspace. He has been a staunch advocate of cyber safety and cybersecurity and played a vital role in the development of Pakistan’s cyber laws.

Mr Farooq Naiyer, Chief Information Security Officer of ORION, Canada was the second speaker of the session. He has a rich experience of more than 18 years in cybersecurity, privacy, and assurance. In his talk about the importance of Cyber Threat Intelligence and countering cyber threats, he highlighted the salient contemporary challenges for securing the national cyberspace and shed light on the threat intelligence as well. He said that the threat intelligence is evidence-based knowledge including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and actionable advice about an existing hazard to assets. He stressed that understanding the threat landscape from a dynamic and strategic perspective helps an organization or actor to prepare and react to a cyber-threat. He also talked about threat actor capabilities, organized criminals, Hacktivist cyber vandalism, and state-sponsored cyber-attacks. He also recommended that to overcome this challenge, Pakistan should develop a centralized cyber command or a national-level authority.

Dr Aftab Rizvi – CEO of Risk Associates, Australia was the third speaker of the conference who talked about the challenges faced to human security by cyberspace. He is an internationally renowned Information Security consultant and Entrepreneur and an expert in technology risk mitigation and cyber safety. Dr Rizvi was of the view that the purpose of national security is to keep the citizens safe from all the threats and cyberspace is posing serious threats to the individuals now. He correlated several examples in this regard and said that according to the UNDP 1944, human security should include economic security, food security, health, environmental, personal, community and political security. Dr Rizvi also overviewed the world news related to the cybersecurity and proposed a strategy to combat these threats.

Mr Jibran Ilyas was another distinguished speaker of the webinar, who shed light on the national strategies and capacity building for national cybersecurity. He serves as the Director of Incident Response at FireEye Mandiant and as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University. He briefed the audience about the national cyber strategy, evolving threat landscape, threat actors and capacity building for nations. he advised the cyber experts of Pakistan to spread awareness in their social circles and educate the masses about basics of cybersecurity. For the capacity building of Pakistan in the field of cybersecurity, he suggested that country should work on research and development, encourage innovation and incentivize the cyber teachers.

Dr Jiang Tianjiao, an Assistant Professor at the Fudan Development Institute China, shared his research on the “China’s Strategic Thinking on Cyber Offense and Defense”. Dr Jiang focused on the evolution of China’s cyber strategy and informed the audience about China’s cyber capabilities. He was of the view that the US-China cyberwar involving the issues of cyber espionage acted as the most significant variable in shaping China’s cyber policies and rendered cybersecurity crucial for the national security of China. While discussing the offensive and defensive capabilities of China in the realm of cyber, he stressed that China has considered the long-term approach and could exploit its cyber capabilities in a cyber-war against any country.

Mr Jorge Sebastiao, the Chief Technology Officer and a cybersecurity advisor was the last speaker of the session in COPAIR’s webinar. His topic of the speech was implications of Artificial Intelligence on Cyber Security, while he also highlighted the role of other nascent technologies like Blockchain, IoT and Big-Data as a challenge and opportunity in cybersecurity. He was of the view that with the increasing reliance on cyberspace, the risks are also increasing for the governments as well as civilians. With the advent of the internet and modern systems we use today, we have wide array servers and points, which should be protected from insider and outsider threats. He also talked about challenges and opportunities emerging from the tech-evolution and their correlation with cybersecurity. Mr Jorge said that Artificial intelligence poses a great risk for the cybersecurity but at the same time, it also provides us with greater opportunities.

Ms Amna Malik, the President Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) Islamabad concluded the session with her recommendations for the policy formulation of cybersecurity for Pakistan. While putting forward the recommendation, she said that there is a dire need to build capacity and train the law-enforcement agencies in the field of cybersecurity. She also emphasized to promote international collaborations and to implement the international cyber standards in Pakistan. While presenting the recommendations, she added that there is need to raise cyber awareness, forge public-private partnerships and focus on the indigenous manufacturing of ICT hardware and software. She is a staunch advocate of the incorporation of cybersecurity in the national security of Pakistan and currently, she is leading her think tank’s research and development program on emerging technologies as part of National Security. In her speech, she stressed that it is high time for Pakistan to build a comprehensive and holistic cyber policy. While highlighting the COPAIR policy advocacy for cybersecurity, she shared her vision to build a cyber-secure and resilient Pakistan.

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