National cybersecurity policy and 5th generation war | By Dr Basit Shahzad 

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National cybersecurity policy and 5th generation war


MINISTRY of Information Technology& Tele communication (MoITT) has recently issued the National Cybersecurity Policy 2021.

The policy proposes the formation of a national cybersecurity framework which includes cybersecurity response teams, legislation, establishment of the national centre of excellence, awareness campaigns and public-private partnerships.

The policy further discusses the scope, implementation, deliverables, and course of action for its deployment.

With the support of the research units and the orientation of BS, MS, and Ph.D. programs in cybersecurity, the country seems to be on the right path for securing its cyberspace: the future battlefield.

The in-depth coverage of the related areas makes it a valuable document to be used as a baseline for (m)any improvement/(s) needed in the future.

The challenges faced in cybersecurity are multifold and policymakers have put an effort to address current and future challenges.

The policy, however, is not comprehensive as it seems silent on some key issues, including but not limited to fake news detection, social media regulation, crypto currencies, intellectual property, piracy of books and software and dark web, etc.The cyberspace of any country is badly affected by fake news.

By the time, the mitigation of the fake news is done, or the official version of the news is shared, the damage desired by the initiator would have been done already.

Fake news affects the economy in a very short time and the delayed response makes the impact catastrophic.

The cybersecurity policy is silent on the fact that how the fake news will be detected and mitigated, what remedial measures will be taken? And what will the punishment be for spreading fake news etc.? This segment is so important that it needs to be covered in the national cybersecurity policy separately and comprehensively.

Social media is a source of information sharing and the spread of mis(information)on social media is quite robust. Since social media is an impactful tool, therefore, its usage must be responsible as well.

The responsibility of ensuring that the user represents a responsible behaviour lies on the government. The social media regulations in such a way that it does not affect the civil liberties and fundamental rights of the citizens, is a need of the hour.

The government may involve civil society, technocrats and intellectuals to formulate guidelines, which may become part of the cybersecurity legislation gradually.

It is also important that the government takes some valuable initiatives in recognizing the opportunities emerging from social media in identifying the crime against individuals and the state.

The areas in which the crime or the planning of the crime can be smelled, include but are not limited to suicide planning, behavioural change in individual, planning of the crime, representation of extremist views, capturing of suspects after a crime, and divided loyalties.

The worth of national cybersecurity policy will further improve if it addresses the areas of national importance specifically and appropriately.

The policy will be of prime usage if its contours are tightly mapped with the protection of the national interest in the cyberspace.

The 5th generation war will be fought through bits and bytes, chits and chats, likes and shares, and by sharing a few-line narrative on the social media.

The policy is expected to be improved to suggest proactive measures in this regard.The policy has been deemed silent on the issue of cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and other variants of blockchain-based mining currencies have gained gradual acceptance in the world and in more than 50 countries they can be used for the purchase of goods and services.

In Pakistan, there have been few cases in the recent past where the people working on the subject were given a tough time by the law enforcement agencies.

A resolution to legalize the status of crypto currencies was passed by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly a few months ago.

It is the responsibility of the State Bank of Pakistan to legalize (or at least clarify) the status of cryptocurrencies and their utilization to buy and sell goods and services.

The dark or deep web consists of websites that are not indexed and can’t be located through search engines. Access to the dark web is gained through onlinepayments and these websites are beyond public access.

These sites may be used for several crimes against humanity. The policy also does not provide an elaboration on how the deep/dark web and the transactions taking place in the dark web will be addressed.

The cybersecurity policy may also address intellectual property, plagiarism, and piracy of software and book etc. to make itself more valuable.

Though the formulation of the cybersecurity policy is a good step, yet many areas are still unaddressed and only a few have been discussed.

It is need of the hour that our cybersecurity policy should be more comprehensive and holistic to address the current and forthcoming challenges in national cyberspace: the battlefield for the 5th generation war.

—The author is an Associate Professor of Computing at NUML Islamabad:

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