KARACHI: As the weekend cyberattack on a leading bank causes services disruption, telecom and information technology authorities have warned of serious threats that the government and business organisations have been facing in the modern digital era.

The warning came from Federal Minister for IT & Telecom Syed Amin-ul-Haque, who recalled recent attacks on IT systems of domestic organisations ranging from government agencies to banks and business conglomerates to a power supply company while addressing the inaugural session of the “Digital Pakistan Cyber Security Hackathon 2021” on Monday.

He disclosed that the cyberattacks had now become a new source crime being executed for ransom and only last year such attacks caused a loss of $20 billion world over.

“A few weeks ago, the website of Federal Board of Revenue was hacked and the most important data was compromised,” he said.

“In June this year, Pakistan’s leading musical streaming website came under a cyberattack and hackers released data on 257,000 users on the dark web. Similarly last year, K-Electric’s system was hacked and ransom was demanded. The 8.5 GB data of millions of users was posted on the dark web due to non-payment of ransom. The data of Meezan Bank and Bank Islami was hacked but the banks asked their customers to change their PIN codes immediately which minimised the loss. Such attacks show that how insecure the data of our institutions and consumers is,” he said.

He cautioned that if the institutions still did not follow the mechanism devised by his ministry, they could suffer “irreparable damages”. Many institutions, he regretted, did not even have cyber security systems and asked all such organisations to appoint experts at the earliest.

“How to stay safe from cyberattacks, it was explained in detail in Pakistan’s first cyber security policy launched in July,” he said. “Our ministry is developing an integrated mechanism so that in case of any cyberattack on any public or private institution of Pakistan, it should not only be stopped but retaliated. With such events, we do not only want to create awareness among the public about cyber security, but also to bring forward creative cyber security experts from across the country.”

“We are developing a team where successful cyber security experts would become a part of Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) that would be soon formed by the ministry,” he said. “The purpose of this Cyber Security Hackathon is to train and prepare experts in the country. It would also test the capabilities of existing experts and train them at the national level. These experts would prevent and respond to cyberattacks on national and private institutions.”

Earlier, the minister shared data of different globally recognised agencies which said there were millions of cyberattacks every day all over the world, including 5.5 million attacks for ransom through malicious software, which called for rapid response through build-up of IT force. With increase in the use of technology and online activities around the world, he said various types of cybercrimes were also on rise.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

The fall guy
Updated 18 Aug, 2022

The fall guy

Maryam’s public distancing from Miftah over recent fuel price hike is quite uncalled for.
Never-ending scourge
18 Aug, 2022

Never-ending scourge

POLIO eradication efforts in the country appear to have suddenly taken a giant leap backwards. A day after...
Frozen Afghan funds
18 Aug, 2022

Frozen Afghan funds

WITH Afghanistan facing a humanitarian catastrophe and economic collapse, the American decision to not release ...
No end to hostility
Updated 17 Aug, 2022

No end to hostility

It is time for all parties to rise above petty tactics and hostilities for political gains and pull country back from brink.
Deadly accidents
17 Aug, 2022

Deadly accidents

TWO horrific accidents on Tuesday, which resulted in high death tolls, illustrate the dangers people face while ...
New banknote
17 Aug, 2022

New banknote

PAKISTAN has a new currency note to mark the diamond jubilee of independence. The 75-rupee banknote, issued by the...