ISLAMABAD: Regional tensions have worsened cyber-enabled conflicts in South Asia, experts.

These were the views of experts speaking at a webinar on ‘Cyberspace Security in South Asia’ hosted by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI). The event was held to assess the impact of cyber and information operations to the security of the region that is being exacerbated by the inter-state conflicts, a media statement issued by the think-tank on Saturday said.

Former Air University vice chancellor retired Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Faaiz Amir said India had significantly enhanced its cyber capabilities and was seeking to dominate regional cyberspace.

Citing Indian IT industry’s figures for the last fiscal year, he said it generated a revenue of $191 billion, which made over 8pc of India’s GDP. Growth of IT sector at such a huge pace, moreover, helped India greatly off-set its import bill.

He said India was likely to introduce a new cyber security policy this year.

AVM Amir said states compete for superiority at local system level to impact other countries at psychological and decision-making levels by causing major disruptions and occasional damage.

He said India had a large technical force to be a factor in a conflict.

Associate Dean at the National University of Sciences and Technology Dr Tughral Yamin said although security ranks high on Pakistan’s national agenda, in the increasingly complex threat milieu, cyber security usually got relegated to the bottom rung and sometimes was literally ignored.

Therefore, Pakistan is way behind other countries in protecting itself in cyber space, he added.

Dr Yamin urged effective policies and legislation to counter the ill-effects of debilitating cyber-attacks.

SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, in his introductory comments, deliberated on how cyber space evolved into the new domain of warfare in the 21st century.

He said South Asia too had been affected by this emergent warfare domain because of Indian aspiration to dominate cyberspace. Pakistan, he maintained, was among the most spied countries and was also among the most vulnerable countries as far as cyber-security was concerned.

Dr Cheema recalled the intensification of India’s cyber-attacks against Pakistan and called for enhancing cyber capabilities.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2021

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