ISLAMABAD: Officials, researchers and IT experts called for a national strategy to deal with cyber threats and cybersecurity at a roundtable seminar held on Wednesday.

Titled ‘Hovering Cyber Threats and our Preparedness’, the seminar was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute and held at its office.

It began with a presentation on the topic by SDPI senior adviser retired Brig Mohammad Yasin.

Mr Yasin said that Pakistan was lagging behind in the cyber-world, and should reach a stage where Pakistan knows its cyber-enemies, their next moves and knows its own capabilities as well.

“It is the time that we should come up with our security policies for tackling with numerous cyber challenges we are confronting.”

Mr Yasin said deterrence does not exist in cyberwarfare and warfare should instead be based on deception. “Where you are weak, show it strong, vice versa. It would greatly help to deceive the enemy,” he said.

He also discussed the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, which he said had been passed in 2016 but had a long way to go “as it needs to be implemented in letter and spirit”.

“Media has been very critical [of] this development or act. Media experts think that it will leave unchecked power [with the] Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), government, and intelligence agencies.”

“No one knows if there is Pakistan military cyber command,” he added, and recommended that “if there is no cyber command there should be one at any cost”.

“A combined and full time civil-military workforce should be established. There should be intra and inter intelligence agencies coordination.”

“This is neither the work of the FIA nor the PTA to devise a complete plan on cybersecurity/command, rather this is the job of the National Telecommunication and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB),” said NITSB official Tariq Abdul Aziz,

The NITSB is a wind of the Cabinet Division that is headed by a secretary and deals with cyber information, communications and electronics, he said.

He added: “There are two extremes like the security of railways and the military. Both are two different aspects of cybersecurity and command, and should be dealt with with equal importance.

“So the current wing of the cabinet division should come up with a national plan to take every stakeholder on the board and there should be awareness about cyber security in the country.”

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2018

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