Keeping in view the India practices of past, false flag operations, fake surgical strikes, Indian Chronicles, hacker attacks on few govt sites, media houses, Pakistan is one such country which is vulnerable to cyber attacks by India and rest of potential hubs of cyber crimes. In Russia and Ukraine conflict, cyber warfare has featured prominently.
In a recently announced Cyber Security Strategies, US names China and Russia as the most prominent cybersecurity threats to American.
News was shared through anonymous sources by US officials stating that
“Russia is serving as a de facto safe haven for cybercrime, and ransomware is a predominant issue that we’re dealing with today,”, report said.
Ransomware attacks were explained as in which cyber criminal gangs seize control of a target’s systems and demand ransom payments. Industry is prime target of such cyber attacks. US has said that it will utilise all elements of national powers to address the problem.
US warned Russia in the news report “So we’re hopeful that Russia understands the consequences of malicious activity in cyberspace, and will continue to be restrained.”
Pakistan is gradually but rapidly adopting the culture of linking its vital social infrastructures — electricity, finance, water, transportation, health and food to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) networks for functioning, distribution and interconnectedness. This dependence results in both opportunities and vulnerabilities, which can be exploited by a variety of actors ranging from individuals to organisations and governments. This indicates that information revolution, experienced by the contemporary world, is both a boon and bane. To a large extent, it is a bane because the ICT has an ‘enabling function’ for disruption, crime and state-level aggression. Biggest threat to Pakistan is from India but other global players are equally suspectable. The ICT dependence may become more prone to vulnerabilities in the times of social unrest, political tensions and other appalling events. At present, Pakistan experiences a fast growing application of the ICT in different sectors but seriously lacks in cyber readiness. In addition, the country confronts a hostile security environment internally as well as externally. These factors expose it to various cyber threats. Muhammad Shad in ISSI journal writes that Drawing on the securitisation theory, this article attempts to examine the cyber threat landscape of Pakistan and focuses on the cyber threats that the country faces across the spectrum — hacking, serious and organised cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare. This is followed by an evaluation of Pakistan’s cyber readiness profile in the light of the five-pillar criteria laid down by the UN specialised agency the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), namely legal, technical, organisational, capacity building and international cooperation.
However cyber security is need of the hour. Cyber security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks.
Pakistan falls among those developing countries where both public and private organisations are increasingly deploying online administrative and service systems. In this regard, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is the most important and sensitive public organisation as it centrally holds national Identity Documents (ID) database of the Pakistani citizens. The NADRA shares online information of citizens with banks, Election Commission of Pakistan, immigration and passports department, mobile networks and security departments.
annual report of the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), Pakistan ranked 67th out of 193 countries in terms of commitment to cybersecurity.23 According to the report, this poor ranking owes to the country’s insufficient measures — legal, technical, organisational, capacity building and cooperation — to upgrade cybersecurity.
Pakistan’s poor cybersecurity arrangements are evident from a few examples. In March 2013, Guardian revealed through Snowden’s leaks that after Iran, Pakistan was the second most targeted country for surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA).24 Later, Intercept, citing the same source, reported that the UK’s intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) hacked into Pakistan’s central communications infrastructure to access commonly used websites.25 The Microsoft declared that Pakistan received the highest number of malware attacks in the second half of 2015, while Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs later found out that the country was among the top countries under the foreign espionage.26
With regard to cybersecurity, this poor state of affairs not only shows the degree of Pakistan’s vulnerability to cyber threats but also exposes the. With the increasing trend in e-banking and e-government, cybercrime is on rise in Pakistan. The country meets the cases of cybercrime on a daily
basis, which may range from account hacking to dangerous attempts like unauthorised and illegal cash withdrawal or fund transfer. Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing, the National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (NR3C), registered 2019 complaints in 2017, which can be divided into three main categories: 1592 (76 per cent) pertaining to harassment, defamation and blackmailing via social media; 307 (14 per cent) regarding financial fraud; 116 (5 per cent) related to threatening calls and 186 about email hacking.33 It is important to underline that a number of cases remain unreported due to the lack of awareness about cyber laws or trust in the law enforcement agencies.
Given the aforementioned list, the banking sector seems to be more prone to vulnerability to serious cybercrimes. In late 2017, a serious cybercrime targeted the ATM facilities of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) through skimming devices, resulting. We should be vigilant and prepared to counter enemy cyber attacks.