Protecting Cyberspace -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Protecting Cyberspace

Pakistan Press Foundation

The ISI has been busy tracing and blocking social media accounts operated by the Sindhi and Baloch separatist groups allegedly inciting the public against the CPEC project.Twitter and Facebook are the mediums being used by these separatist groups, which are labelling the CPEC project as a violation of the rights of the people of Sindh and Balochistan.According to the intelligence agencies findings, the drive on social network by anti-CPEC elements is being supported technically and funded by the hostile intelligence services of the region, including RAW.

Cyber warfare was identified as the new, non-military security threat to the country given its location and strategic role back in 2012, but since then a comprehensive cyber protection policy has not been developed by the government to protect itself from cyber-attacks.Instead, what we have is a heavy-handed approach, that bans and block anything even mildly problematic, from TV serials to YouTube –with a lacklustre performance when it comes to foreign hackers.The ISI and the Foreign Office will only now work together in order to protect it from hackers following three major cyber-attacks over the past 18 months and have requested an allocation of Rs80 million in the next fiscal year’s budget for strengthening cyber-security.

Three days ago, it was alleged by the Indian media that Pakistani hackers posed as members of the press to attempt hacking into computers of government officials.Though such reports cannot be trusted, attempts of to and fro cyber-attacks are not uncommon.There is no doubt that Pakistan’s digital infrastructure must have the ability to resist cyber-attacks and block disruption into the affairs of the state.Intelligence agencies should have the freedom to defend against emerging cyber threats at their discretion, however to block all voices – big or small – of dissent will only serve to agitate the separatist elements who many only want some space to voice their grievances.It is important to distinguish between vicious cyber-attacks and voicing of opinions, that may not be completely harmless but should be allowed some space and freedom instead of being blocked outright.Dissent is an important part of the democratic process and previous attempts to muzzles the voices (like the cancellation of Mama Qadeer’s talk) have backfired.Having said that, if any foreign elements are involved in trying to breach Pakistani cyberspace for their own interests, this cannot and must not be allowed under any circumstance.

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