Pakistan threatened by cyber stealing of sensitive data by US National Security Agency (NSA)


KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has finally realized the consequences of having United States of America (USA) as an ally and directed all the ministries, departments and divisions to protect and safeguard sensitive/official information/data against possible cyber attack by US National Security Agency (NSA).

The National Telecom & Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) of the Cabinet Division has framed guidelines /techniques for protecting government business from possible hacking, cyber attacks.
“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 Cabinet Division noted in a letter to all ministries, departments and divisions.

The remarkable progress in the field of information and communication technology has not only revolutionized the world with the advancing methods and modes of transformation of information diversified manifold but also posing serious security threats and implications.

“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 Cabinet Division noted.

All necessary precautionary measures must be adopted for safeguarding the departmental IT system/network infrastructure.

According to the guidelines, legal and regulatory framework at national level is also very important. Cyber crime and cyber security laws needs to be enacted and enforced as laws are deterrent control to secure cyberspace and hence to protect national security.

The Security Board noted that presence of sensitive/official data on the web had made the government official entities hostage and vulnerable to hostile ingress and sudden access by unknown intelligent IT mafias, suspected hackers as well as individual secret agents.

Misuse of this information fairly acquired from such an advanced information resource through multiple hacking techniques may invariably cause serious threats to national security.

Pakistan being a frontline state in the war on terror and a key ally to its coalition partners is clearly confronting such threats for which a fool proof mechanism needs to be in place by all government officials to protect and safeguard sensitive government business and national interest.

Over past decade, in a number of such incidents by hostile agencies, hacker groups in an attempt to achieve breakthrough of official security network/IT centers/networks of various government departments have been made to fulfill their political or strategically objectives.

It may be mentioned here that on November 26, 2010, a suspicious group calling itself the ‘Indian Cyber Army’ hacked the websites belonging to the Pakistan Army and the other different ministries including ministry of finance, ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of education, Pakistan Computer Bureau and Council of Islamic Ideology, etc.
In October 2010, more than 40 Pakistani websites including a number of sensitive organizations were hacked by Indian hackers.

In March 2013, a hackers group named ‘Godzilla’ hacked a number of Pakistani official websites.