Cyber Security for a Sustainably Developed Pakistan

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Cyber security comprises technologies, processes and controls that are designed to protect systems, networks and data from cyber attacks. Effective cyber security reduces the risk of cyber attacks, and protects organisations and individuals from the unauthorised exploitation of systems, networks and technologies.

Over the last few decades, the use of cyber space has made an exceptional innovation to take place, gave rise to the inter-connected world and brought people together from all spheres of life at one platform. Majority of modern nations had got rid of manual systems of infrastructure so vital to their national economy and shifted to enhance their systems to digitization.

The government of Pakistan has been engaged in making policies for countering cyber-attacks since 2003 but no actual implementation has been even done so far on ground. With every passing day and year, cyber space is not only being misused by cyber criminals but it has become a strongest haven for cyber terrorists to recruit and use it for networking, communication, data gathering, psychological warfare, and mobilization purposes.  The Senate Standing Committee on Defence keeps recommending for improving cyber security of the country as Chairman standing committee proposed seven-point action plan for countering cyber threats. The seven points also put emphasis on joint Asian Strategy to counter cyber threats. If we look at neighboring countries approach towards fighting cybercrimes, it is evident that a reactionary approach can never work when it comes to fight in cyber space. The recent meeting chaired by National Security Advisor Naseer khan Janjua for developing and evolving a mechanism to ensure cyber security of Pakistan at national level is one positive step, but the real challenge comes at the implementation level.

Internet usage is increasing everywhere due to the current rapid transformation of ICTs enabled services especially in education, health and other walks of life. In this scenario, there is an urgent need to make a secure cyber space for Pakistan.Globally cyber security is the part of overall strategy to promote the use of latest technologies in good governance initiatives. The most recent global initiative in this regard is Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which has now become the real road map of development in Pakistan. In this regard International Conference on Cyber Secure Pakistan Vision-2025 was organized on 29th March 2018 in Pak China Friendship Center Islamabad by Pakistan Information Security Association in collaboration with Center of Information Technology (CIT). The Chief Guest of the Conference was Lt General (R) Nasser Janjua National Security Advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan. Ten foreign Speakers were also part of the conference including, Doctor Amir ud Din Abdul who is CEO Cyber Security Malaysia and Vice President ICANN whereas Vice chancellors, Heads of Telecom Companies and Senior Officers from Government Organizations were also among the speakers.  Malaysia Cyber Security CEO also spoke at the event. He said a number of measures had been taken by Malaysia to overcome cyber security challenges. Among these, he said, were the introduction of eight laws and partnerships with local universities.  PISA president Ammar Jaffery said that the nation’s future was inextricably linked to overcoming cyber security threats. The aim of the conference was to adjust the vital issue of sustainable development of Pakistan and its linkages with the cyber secure Pakistan. We all know that sustainable development can’t be attained without ensuring timely targets of SDG’s and secure internet usage. Cyber secure Pakistan 2025 has been designed with the successful achievement development goals as a global agenda which Pakistan also has to attain in order to cope with the challenges.

When it comes to the proceedings of the conference, several cyber security issues were highlighted in the conference and appropriate solutions were also recommended. Awareness is actually the first and the most imperative point with regards to Cyber Security and Cyber Crime. This conference was highly applauded by the participants and authorities.

A special session was also the part of the conference which specifically focused on Cyber Security of Women and Girls in Pakistan. Young female participants were introduced to the cyber laws so they can report cyber crimes to Law Enforcement Agencies.

Law Enforcement Agencies and Government Officials at the conference suggested several reforms in our current cyber laws and policies. Lack of cyber security awareness is the main reason of cyber crimes as a large number of internet users are unsecure. Conferences such as Cyber Secure Pakistan 2018 are playing a major role in spreading awareness about cyber security in Pakistan. Amna Malik, President Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR), has also participated in this session. COPAIR’s initiative of launching cyber security scouts also makes this platform very pivotal regarding this particular issue.

When it comes to the Objectives and motives behind this cyber security Conference, it becomes very clear that the forum has provided voice to the thoughts of many. It was indeed a place where all Public and Private Sector Organizations got an opportunity to exchange opinions for a Cyber Secure Pakistan.  A  CIT-CERT Coordination Center has also been established to perform several functions which includes,

Training and building capacity of public and private sectors organizations to establish their own CERTs, prevailing awareness among organizations and stake holders on the risks, Issuing cyber threat alerts and advisories to members of the CIT CERT Coordination center so that they could remain secure from cyber-attacks. Online fraud, theft and blackmailing are all part of cybercrimes. It’s a dangerous thing for people’s personal life and privacy in modern time. Users must secure their passwords on internet and electronic devices, and must be highly careful in order to save themselves from cybercrimes. Cyber Warfare is one of the hot topics for all the developed and developing countries.

While most of the security apparatus is geared towards the precarious nuclear balance, a new study has warned that cyber-attacks pose no less of a threat to the national economy and security. To mitigate this threat, there is need for coordinated national efforts to counter the problem of unpredictability and anonymity enjoyed by cyber attackers. Recognising the threat, the upper house of Parliament had set up a task force on cyber-security, comprising around 40 experts to prepare a cyber-security policy, strategy, laws and a national CERT (Computer Emergency Response. It is said that the global economy could potentially lose around $2 trillion dollars by 2019 due to cyber- attacks and the vulnerability of global financial and corporate systems to cyber theft.

COPAIR Launches Cyber Security Girls Scouts

President of Centre of Pakistan and International Relations, Amna Malik has taken the initiative to launch Cyber Security Scouts for the purpose of having a Cyber Secure Pakistan. This requires a lofty vision coupled with great strength to initiate and powerful commitment to take it forward in a manner that it not only benefits individuals but pave the way for future security concerns. Keeping in mind that the nature of digital system is vulnerable to cyber-attacks by malevolent groups, or individuals and with an increased usage of internet and phenomenal sophistication of cyber-attack by state and non-state actors, it becomes a serious challenge to either limit the usage of internet or counter these cyber threat. It is in this backdrop that cyber security has come up as a critical issue for the government of Pakistan, military, and security policy makers that calls for initiatives such as the Cyber Security Scouts.

 

Amna Malik

Author is the President, Center of Pakistan & International Relations (COPAIR) & Editor-in-Chief of ‘Melange’ & ‘The Asian Telegraph’

About Dr. Lubna Umar 10 Articles
The author is the Editor of Mélange Intl. Magazine and The Asian Telegraph & Research Associate Center of Pakistan & International Relations (COPAIR).