Digital spook hits Prime Minister Office
By: Imran Ali Teepu
ISLAMABAD: An email sent the Prime Minister’s media office into a spin on Monday by announcing the boss’ Defence Day message in its name but making no sense.
“It contained no text, just the title ‘Prime Minister’s Message on Defence Day’,” spokesman for the prime minister’s office Shafqat Jalil told Dawn.
Investigations revealed that the sender created a fake identity, email@example.com, simply by adding ‘r’ to official email address of the office. Hurriedly, the office issued a press release to warn the media organisations about the falsehood.
“You are requested to ignore the Prime Minister’ message on Defence Day circulated on the fake ID firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has not been issued by this office. Our official email IDs are: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com,” said the press release.However, those official IDs attracted criticism from people in the Ministry of IT & Telecom.
“Why the Prime Minister’s office is using email accounts on the private web gmail,” asked a surprised officer of the ministry. “It amounts to a big information security breach as anyone can hack such email addresses of the prime minister,” he told Dawn.
Such grave mishaps can easily be averted by using the official email domain, gov.pk, he said. Any individual can create fake identity in the same manner in future and cause the prime minister embarrassment, he said.
“That possibility should worry the government, which should refer the matter to the FIA cyber crime cell for investigation,” said the official.
Monday’s fake email showed that the information division of the Prime Minister’s office was not well informed in technology affairs.
He recalled that during the tenure of former President Pervez Musharraf, the Electronic Government Directorate of the Ministry of IT & Telecom used to host the email servers of the offices of the president and the prime minister.
Prime minister’s spokesman Jalil insisted that he was equally concerned. “I will look into the past practices how the official emails were sent to the media. We detected the fake email and immediately informed the media as per the standard operating procedure that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has not issued any message relating to Defence Day,” he said.