A milestone in cyber security

Khurram Minhas

Pakistan’s bill on cyber security which was presented for the first time in June 2014 has been passed in National Assembly of Pakistan. Civil society and vocals of freedom of speech are criticizing the bill for curbing human rights and giving overreaching powers to law enforcement agencies. However, defence analysts are considering this bill a milestone towards cyber security and defence. It is unfortunate that there was absence of cyber security policy and legislation in Pakistan. Therefore, it is a welcome addition in the security and defence sector for the country. Under the law, the unauthorised use of identity information, tempering of communication equipment, interference with critical infrastructure, information system or data, making, obtaining or supplying device for use of offence, cyber stalking are among crimes which have been made as punishable crimes.
Scientific developments and the ease of access of various communication technologies to a wide-ranging audience beyond borders have made almost boundless prospects to broadcast and inject information. Since its inception, the internet has empowered the introduction of numerous platforms for mass communication, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and other social media outlets. Not surprisingly, among the billions of users worldwide, we also find terrorist organisations. Non-state actors and states are frequently involve in launching cyber-attacks against rival states. Cyber-attack can damage national critical infrastructure and commercial entities, i.e., banks and financial organizations, transport services, emergency services, hospitals and firefighting services.
If one compares Pakistan with Iran, India and China, the country is far behind in cyber security sector as compared to these countries. Iran has sophisticated and highly developed ‘Higher Cyber Defence Command’ which was established in 2007 under the President of Iran. Likewise, India had announced its ‘Cyberspace Security Policy’ in July 2013. India is far ahead of Pakistan in cyber security. India had planned to hire 500,000 cyber experts till 2020. China had developed ‘Cyberspace Defence Command’ under Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) in 2003.
In the age of highly competitive global environment, it is unfortunate that Pakistani public, academia and youth lacks awareness about cyber security. Therefore, print and electronic media must play its vital role to develop awareness of Cyber-crimes and security.
Moreover, there is a need of Public-Private partnership in harnessing the awareness and expertise of cyber security in Pakistan.. In this regard, Pakistan can learn from best practices, such as the US. Washington had involved its top ranking universities in early 1990s for developing cyber security strategies There is also absence of coordination between different government departments. Cyber security is highly complex domain. Various ministries such as Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries often fall in this domain. Hence, a coordination department for Cyber defence and security in federal capital should be developed for better coordination among these ministries. In this regard, a coordination cell is a need of time.
Moreover, there is a need to harness the talent of Pakistani young generation in order to counter these cyber-attacks. In this regard, the research institutions and universities could produce best human resource, who could play an important role in cyber security. Government should also establish Cyber Security Council (CSC) in Pakistan. Prime Minster of Pakistan should give a task to proposed CSC to develop a comprehensive cyber security strategy in order to counter future cyber-attacks under the light of the Cyber bill
— The writer works at Islamabad Policy Research Institute.

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