Website puzzle for HEC
By Imran Ali Teepu
ISLAMABAD: Already fighting for its survival, the officials of Higher Education Commission (HEC) were on Monday left dazed by the discovery of a website with uncanny resemblance to its www.hec.gov.pk.
Visited daily the www.hec.edu.pk also offers services similar to those highlighted on the commissionÂ’s website, which is browsed by thousands of visitors across the globe.
The ‘edu’ domain is mostly used by educational institutions across Pakistan.
“I am amazed the website is running. Moreover, it also has ads,” a senior official of the commission, who requested not to be named, told Dawn. “We will take up the matter with our information technology officials on Tuesday.”
Admitting that the HEC did not know about the website, the official insisted on distancing the commission from it.
“The HEC is not associated with the domain. We have our official website running on the gov.pk server hosted by a federal telecom organisation. It is managed by the Electronic Government Directorate,” he said. “A team of IT officials at the commission manages and regularly updates the website.”
About the hec.edu.pk also offering links to scholarships, admission to universities, and announcing exams and results related to getting admissions in the US and UK universities, he said: “We don’t own it and it’s a news for us.”
The official browsed the website and was ‘amazed’ it has advertisement links powered by the Google search engine.
According to an IT expert, if traffic (per day visitors) of a website crosses a certain number of hits, Google search engine often places its online advertisements on it, becoming a source of revenue for the website.
The website has also caught the attention of Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Wing despite the fact that the commission has not registered any complaint with it. “The website cannot be uploaded on until it clears certain registration procedures mandatory for getting edu domain,” an official of the wing, requesting anonymity, said. He added that for getting an edu domain, the individual must be linked to a degree awarding education.
“We have to check the domain registration process and who owns it. Once we go through it, we will be in a better position to comment.”
The official said HEC has to register a complaint with the wing “if they want to take action against the owner of the ‘parallel’ website.”
He added that the wing was already probing ‘parallel websites’ after receiving complaints from different institutions. “We don’t share details until we nab individuals behind them.”
When a message was sent on the cellphone of Dr Sohail Naqvi, executive director of HEC, to get his comments, he answered back: “Watching a play”.