National Security Adviser (NSA) Nasser Khan Janjua on Thursday emphasized the need to realize the gravity of cyber security threats, Radio Pakistan reported.
He called upon experts to help the government secure cyber space.
Speaking at a conference organized by the Pakistan Information Security Association (PISA) in Islamabad, Janjua said taking concrete steps to overcome cyber security challenges was the need of the hour. He said pertinent agencies needed to inspect cyber space to secure communications, financial and conventional set-ups from attacks.
PISA president Ammar Jaffery said the nation’s future was inextricably linked to overcoming cyber security threats.
Pakistan is not new to the cyber security threat. In 2008-2010, Pakistan was among a host of countries which were affected by the Stuxnet virus. And with ongoing hybrid warfare, cyber space is the unknown frontier with massive vulnerabilities, loopholes and challenges, experts say.
Recognizing the threat, the upper house of Parliament had set up a task force on cyber security, comprising around 40 experts. It was supposed to prepare a cyber-security policy, strategy, laws and a national CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team). It took them two years, but the task force finally managed to ready a draft of the cyber security policy. The policy was presented to the parliament as a private member bill but has yet to be passed.
The asymmetry and anonymity enjoyed by cyber-attackers call for coordinated national efforts to respond to this menace, they said.
A study group on IT and Telecom earlier this month warned of growing threat of cyber terrorism and the need of cyber security for the safety of services and infrastructure in the country. Janjua’s observations dovetail theirs.
According to Senior Advisor Brig. (Retd) Mohammad Yasin of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), the next war between rivals will be a cyber-war and the country stronger in cyber warfare will win without taking to the battlefield. “The expanding cyber space, increasing prevalence and severity of cyber-attacks are posing a serious threat to our economy and national security,” he added.
The study group on Information and Technology and Telecommunications organized by SDPI termed the cyber security a non-traditional security threat, adding that we are living in times which can be seen as a new industrial revolution. Hence, there was a need to take adaptive measures to the new technological changes around us and to find ways to control cyber threats, since it was becoming a matter of national concern.
“In this less-human and more-technology-controlled society, we should have both, military as well as a civilian cyber command to handle the growing cyber security threats as well as to ensure individual privacy and security from cyber-attackers,” SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qayyum Suleri said.
While most of the security apparatus is geared towards the precarious nuclear balance, the group of cyber security experts warned that cyber-attacks pose no less of a threat to the national economy and security. To mitigate this threat, there was a need for coordinated national efforts to counter the problem of unpredictability and anonymity enjoyed by cyber attackers.