ISLAMABAD: Over the years, Pakistan has survived numerous cyberattacks from multiple state and non-state actors, thus proactive policies and laws are needed to deal with the threat.
This was stated by Brig Mohammad Yasin (retired), Advisor Emeritus of the Institute for Sustainable Development Policy, opening the discussion at the 63rd Meeting of the SDPI Study Group on Information and Telecommunications Technology (ICT).
Pakistan has such policies and laws which obviously cannot be static and must evolve to keep up with impending cyber threats and attacks, said Brig Yasin.
Dr. Muhammad Mukaram Khan, Director General of Cyber Watch at the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said it is time to “act now” to ensure implementation of laws/policies. Warning about threats including cyber incidents in the industry, he highlighted the need to identify data breaches.
“Pakistan is among the top 10 most attacked countries in the world, so copyright and trademark crimes need international legislative responses and countries’ cooperation on cybercrime. Pakistan should ensure the strengthening of system security, revision of PECA-2016 to PECA-2022, as well as the roles of social media with the help of establishing PTA-approved telecom operators.”
Professor Dr. Haider Abbas, Military College Signals, University of Science and Technology, said Pakistan was living in an era of cybersecurity, which required meeting human expectations of the cybersecurity skills gap. Mentioning the lack of participation of women in the workforce to meet the challenges in Pakistan, he said they were inadequate for crime prevention.
“We need to build human resource capacity, the inclusion of tailored programs, the establishment of centers and labs of excellence, start-ups and public-private partnerships in terms of skills development.”
He said that the development of cyber security through educational programs is necessary to develop research, skills and encourage youth in cyber security skills. He recommended partnerships from industry and academia to ensure the development of capabilities to assess cybersecurity issues. He also emphasized conducting academic research programs by the Higher Education Commission and funding interdisciplinary research involving psychology and cybersecurity skills. He further suggested organizing webinars and inter-laboratory trainings in government organizations for the implementation of laws and policies.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director of SDPI, said that the cybersecurity policy should take full responsibility of the government for the implementation of national cybersecurity policies. Internet of Things devices should be operated by software companies with joint partnerships with the Internet of Things (IoT) field in Pakistan, he said, adding that data should be strategically protected in cloud services or drives. Google. “A new alignment for international cooperation with five eyes such as the US, UK, New Zealand, Canada and the EU should be integrated for strategic benefit,” he argued.
Aslam Hayat, Senior Policy Researcher, LIRNEASIA; Partner Hayat and Noorwala; The former head of Telenor Pakistan’s Regulatory Wing said “Pakistan’s cybersecurity policy is in line with current needs.” Speaking of the indicators in relation to the success of any policy, he said that the framework, the powerful principles and good practices were the need for an hour to focus on policies. “Pakistan, which was ranked 79th in the Global Cyber Security Index, needs to invest in capacity building of cyber security human resources.”
He stressed the need to strengthen the National Cyber Security Policy through identifying the right risks and challenges, establishing trust in digital transactions to improve Pakistan’s ICT classification for implementation and monitoring through the concerned parties.
Ameena Sohail, Managing Partner of Precision Consultants and former (legal) member of the Ministry of Information Technology, sought the way forward by highlighting the measures of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) state commitment to cybersecurity that It involves legal, technical, organizational aspects, capacity development and internal cooperation. To secure crimes like cyberterrorism, she said hate speech needs an interest in crimes that affect social fabrics. “The FIA, as a designated agency, must play its role in providing training on crimes against dignity, indecent, cyber bullying and spamming,” he said, adding that the Home Office and the Ministry Information Technology must be technically equipped to overcome cybercrime challenges. “It is the responsibility of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to remove illegal content online in accordance with our laws.” To maintain safeguards and precautions in handling computer emergencies, international cooperation for investigation should be carried out, she suggested.
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