Pakistan is near to announce a formal cyber security policy, Federal Secretary MoIT


Pakistan is all set to announce a formal cyber security policy to better protect businesses, peoples’ privacy and their fundamental rights, and secure private information and data against online harm, as work on the guidelines has entered into the final phase.

“The cyber policy for the country is being finalized. It is (there) in one form or the other in practical shapes, but a formal cyber security policy is under finalization. I am sure we will be having this policy very soon,” Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, Federal Secretary, Ministry of IT & Telecommunication, said while speaking on the third international conference on ‘Cyber Threat Intelligence {2020}’ organized by Total Communications held in Islamabad.

A number of cyber attacks have taken place on state and private entities in Pakistan. Besides, people have lost lives due to non-serious approach and attitude on social media. “Much has to be done, not much has been done,” he said.

President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan are giving utmost importance to what is required for IT, information security and cyber security and Federal Minister for IT & Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque is leading it in a very vibrant manner, he said.

Speakers have very rightly pointed out that IT departments at public and private entities are not responsible for the cyber security, information security and cyber threats, “but this is virtually state level matter and permeate throughout the society at all levels…to all organizations whether they are in financial sector, information services or any other technical work,” he said.

Ensuring cyber security is a highly challenging job. “It is a 360 degree effort. It is a 24 hours’ work. It is not just you do excellent in 23 hours and 59 minutes and one minute is the gap where you are hit. So this is the level of alertness and the visual that is required for,” he said.

Ammar Jaffri, Director General, Center of Information Technology (CIT), expressed disappointment that Pakistan has remained stuck in discussing basic policy issues for cybersecurity for over one-and-half decades. “We have started discussions to safeguard the nation against cyberattacks 16 years ago…and today we are again discussing cybersecurity. It is very serious to me. These 16 years is a big time for me,” he said.

Jaffri, who is Former Additional Director General, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), said that corporate sector and individuals are waiting for legal protection against cybersecurity breaches. “This is high time for the government to act now.”

Sagheer Mufti, Chief Operating Officer, HBL, said that cyber crime has become more profitable than narcotics globally. This is a wakeup call for public and private entities in Pakistan.

Azhar Zia ur Rehman, Head of the Advisory, Committee on Cyber/Information Security, Ministry of IT & Telecommunication, said that they have developed a generic framework for a national information security policy. “What we are trying to protect is not the cyber, but the information through strengthening cyber security that is our valuable asset.”

Speakers in panel discussions said that Covid-19 is the gateway to the future of digital Pakistan. The landscape of cyber-attacks and threats has drastically changed especially during the pandemic, as criminals are now using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to attack public and private sector entities.

They said the entities should not stop doing projects for digital Pakistan in wait for cyber security policy and other related legislations, but they should go ahead. The projects and policy making cab be done simultaneously, they said.

International speakers from Russia, UK, Turkey, USA, KSA and Singapore also spoke in the conference.

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