ISLAMABAD ( MEDIA )
Recent revelations by a US based newspaper about stealing of sensitive computer data and emails by United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) from various countries, including Pakistan, raised eye brows of the security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan.
The intelligence agencies have not only obtained draft of recently prepared Cyber Crime Bill but have also acquired technical support of the experts to help them fully protect sensitive data against any kind of NSA-style cyber attack, The News has claimed on Friday.
The sources said that the Ministry of Information Technology that prepared draft of Cyber Crime Bill was planning to present it to the federal cabinet for approval before its presentation in Parliament. The security and intelligence agencies have also started evaluating the draft from various angles and they are expected to propose some key amendments keeping in view grave potential threats of cyber attacks from anti-Pakistan elements.
The official record showed that the Cabinet Division took the initiative when it raised this issue by sending a letter to all federal ministries, divisions and other government departments on September 25, 2013 stating “Recent wave of stealing the sensitive official data by US NSA has raised serious concerns warranting the implementation of all policies and guidelines in true letter and spirit”.
The letter stated: “USA being the leading country in the field of communication and IT is using multiple tools mainly through electronic surveillance, ground and air intelligence platforms like satellites, recording telephonic calls, gathering public pulse through e-mails filtering, radio monitoring, communication leaks, vulnerabilities in IT based networks carrying sensitive data and other sophisticated means, covertly or overtly.
“The government officials and officers have been directed to avoid using private emails for exchange of official correspondence; official data should not be stored/ copied on personal computers and laptops and personal USB, which are connected to internet.”
An official said the recent revelations have corroborated the fact that Pakistan is facing serious kinds of threats of cyber attacks and it must come up with a comprehensive and all-inclusive legislation to ensure that all official work is done in a digitally secure and protected environment.
He said the cyber security agenda of Pakistan now revolves around five main strategic goals: legal measures, technical and procedural steps, organisational structures, capacity building, and international cooperation.
It is pertinent to mention here that the NSA has put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyber attacks. The programme has already succeeded in planting software in Russian military networks as well as systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, European Union trade institutions and other countries such as Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.
Director Information Technology at the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Iftikhar Hussain said the big Internet companies are not as innocent in all of this as they originally lead the world to believe.
“National Telecom and Information Technology Security Board (NTITSB) has already framed guidelines/ techniques for protecting government business from possible hacking and cyber attacks. Cyber Crime Bill would help enhance coordination against cyber attacks at the international level,” he said.