Cyber Insecurity of Pakistan

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The 21st century has witnessed the coming of the IT revolution, a global phenomenon, which brought along with it innumerable opportunities and some unsurmountable complexities. The leaps made in the domain of Information Technology over the years have acted as a double-edged sword for the strategic community where on one hand it accelerated technological advancements for the benefit of humanity and on the other hand created a plethora of challenges for the world community. The most pertinent challenge to have emerged out of the spectacular rise of Information Technology has been the revolutionized nature of warfare which is manifested by the fact that wars are no longer just fought by uniformed belligerents on physical battlefields. Owing to its potency to effectively amplify a State’s threat calculus, the emergence of Cyber Space, as an advanced form of the battlefield, has been a critical development in the realm of security studies.

More than 34 percent of organizations globally are affected by insider threats yearly. It may be due to an employee going rogue but mostly it’s a result of negligence or human error. Proper training and understanding of cybersecurity amongst staff at all levels are vital to guarantee prevention against insider threats. Ensuring that a proper off-boarding process is in place when an employee resigns is also crucial here. Their access to company data must be restricted by the removal of login credentials.

Cyber attacks can start from any location in the world. Finding the whereabouts of offenders is essentially impossible. In the previous five years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of cyberattacks. As a result, every nation recognizes cyber attacks as a significant security concern. The misuse of cyber technology forces authorities to make both collective and individual efforts to provide a safe and welcoming online environment.

Pakistan’s extreme dependency on the cyberspace domain coupled with its lackluster legal and administrative cyber security protocols has made it exceedingly vulnerable to cyber exploitation. The resultant cyber insecurity because of its threat multiplier effect is therefore considered a critical challenge to Pakistan’s national security. The unfettered rise of the cyber domain has been consequential for nation-states across the globe, Pakistan being no exception to it.

The country’s extreme dependency on cyberspace for delivery of critical public services and corporate prosperity coupled with the serious absence of cyber security protocols has made it exceedingly vulnerable to cyber exploitation. Being the virtual linchpin of South Asia, Pakistan has been a  continuous target of sustained multi-pronged cyber onslaughts. These nefarious cyber offensives have quite effectively diversified the cyber threat spectrum of Pakistan and have unleashed a host of challenges for the country ranging from computer malware, cyber frauds, loss of sensitive information, paralysis of IT systems, cyber terrorism, and cyber theft to cyber espionage. Because of its ability to sabotage Individual as well as State security and its entirety, the Weaponsiation of Cyber Space has been instrumental in undermining Pakistan’s National  Security.

The topic of cyber security has become a potent instrument for criminals to use to perpetrate crimes in the online world by utilizing information and communication technologies, according to literature, practice, and government legislation. Hackers and online assailants cross all social, political, and private lines. States are increasing their inspection of cyber laws and policies to protect individual privacy and the interests of the nation as a whole as the world becomes more technologically proficient and economically dependent on internet infrastructure. Pakistan is also developing its cyberspace both horizontally through worldwide interconnection and vertically within the nation. Pakistan is likewise in peril, just like the rest of the globe.

Pakistan’s cyberspace is under constant attack. According to official figures, one million cyber-attacks have been launched in Pakistan since January 2021. Even though the attacks were thwarted by the National Telecom Company, the offense has a significant advantage over the defense in cyberspace, due to the frequently changing threat vectors. Hence it was observed that the FBR data center was successfully marginalized by hackers on August 14, 2021, and recently the NBP system was also compromised.

To checkmate the hostile cyber offensives, Pakistan not only has to implement the existing cyber framework in full letter and spirit but also has to come up with advanced critical Infrastructure that is vital to secure the Cyberspace domain. In addition to that, the state has to direct all its energies to expedite CyberAwareness campaigns because the first step in solving a  problem is to recognize and acknowledge that there is one. The unfettered rise of the cyber domain has been of consequential nature for nation-states across the globe. Unguarded cyberspace reeks of insecurity which in turn jeopardizes the national security of a state by effectively expanding its threat spectrum. A reappraisal of Pakistan’s cyber security policy is therefore required to effectively checkmate the cyber offensives unleashed by the hostile actors. The government needs to implement NCSP-21. Efforts should be made to enhance the capacity building of existing IT experts in the public sector and more cyber security experts should be inducted into organizations responsible for cyber security. The government should initiate an information security campaign to educate people.

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