The innovation in information and communication technologies has programed relatively new era of security. Newer threats are evolving globally and within states and redefining socio economic development in current world. Since dawn of computing virus threats have been there but exclusive growth in infrastructure of internet and its cheap accessibility increased threats for state, business community, government and private sector. Pakistan is no exception to it because cyberspace is increasingly being exposed to such threats. Assessments and continual improvement in legal framework, structures and process related to cyber security realm can enhance adequate measures to protect cyberspace.
Advancement of information and communication technologies has increased the threat of malicious use of data using internet infrastructure as tool of crime in realm of cyberspace. Adequate governance and institutional framework with quality resources are being used by states as art of war and shield against threats. Misuse of cyberspace and cyber-attacks by Indian developers and security officials is increasing in era of fifth generation warfare.
In literature and practice and government policies the issue of cyber security has emerged as a powerful tool to commit crime in online world by using information and communication technologies. Hackers and cyber attackers transcend political, social and private boundaries. As world is technologically advanced and economically interdependent on internet infrastructure states are enhancing the scrutiny of cyber laws and policies to secure privacy of individual and national interest as a whole. Pakistan is also expanding its cyberspace vertically within the state and horizontally in international connectivity as well. Pakistan is also facing the same threat as world facing it.
These threats are increasing and started attacking more complex systems in recent era. The military and other state institutions are also not spared from these attacks. Examples as how best to tackle such issues and threats are available across the globe. As Pakistan moves forward and increases in cyber reach, the cyber threats would also continue to increase. Over the years, Pakistan has done its share of legislation and progress in realm of cyberspace and continually trying to assess and improve current regulations and policies. But, those mechanisms and legislations have not adequately addressed the issue. Further there is a need for legislation, policymaking, coordinated efforts and collective responsibility when it comes to securing Pakistan’s cyber space.
Pakistan is a developing country but its internet penetration is much satisfactory, with 77.7% mobile subscription. In 2018, the government launched Digital Pakistan initiative aimed at increasing connectivity, providing enhanced digital infrastructure and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. The previous governments too provided an enabling environment for the IT sector by reducing tariffs. Initiatives such as the PM Laptop Scheme also effectively contributed to enhancing computer literacy. IT solutions such as NADRA database, land automation record, safe city project, and online tax return system are part of digital transformation. The IT industry also blossomed during the Covid-19 pandemic and IT solutions such as edTech and FinTech helped sustain life. E-commerce business growth also accelerated during this period.
Pakistan’s cyberspace is under constant attack. According to official figures, one million cyber-attacks have been launched on Pakistan since January 2021. Even though the attacks were thwarted by the National Telecom Company, offence has a significant advantage over defence in cyber space, 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.
Pakistan is a vibrant IT market ready to harness 4IR benefits and poised to tackle the relevant challenges due to the availability of the required infrastructure. The government needs to implement NCSP-21. Efforts should be made to enhance capacity building of existing IT experts in public sector and more cyber security experts should be inducted in organizations responsible for cyber security. The government should initiate an information security campaign to educate people. It should also consider legislation for prosecution of defaulters for any data loss as accountability will help improve performance of all those responsible for cyber security.