President Alvi asks to produce a local IT force to counter potential cyberattacks

Karachi, July 21, 2022: President Arif Alvi has asked public and private sectors to collaborate to produce local IT force to beef up nation’s cybersecurity and prepare to counter potential future attacks, as the country’s reliance on cyberspace is on the rise at a fast pace.

“Pakistan and the world have to be well prepared for cyberattacks in the future,” President of Pakistan Mr. Alvi said in his video message at the 14th international conference on Information Security 2022 held on Thursday.

He said the sale of the big countries’ data on the dark web is alarming. The cybersecurity is desperately needed. “We must produce our own human resources…must be ready to battle these kind of interferences which may come up even in peace times.”

The 9/11 event in the US, which is bad part of the history, has created the reason for having security in every building. In continuation of that (9/11), the cyberattacks have become so common, he said.

The cybersecurity is necessary not only for countries, but it is necessary for multinational companies (MNCs), it is necessary for banks, it is necessary for utility companies to operate safely, it is necessary for every business because ransomware has attacked even small businesses, he said.

“IT influences almost everything we do today whether it is car, whether it is aero plane, whether it is train, whether it is people working, whether it is traffic moving around and if that is interfered with that (cyberattacks) will lead to chaos,” President Alvi said.

Total Communications, which organized the conference, conferred lifetime achievement award to Syed Irfan Ali, Managing Director, Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC), which is a subsidiary of the central bank.

Ali, who is managing Rs70 billion portfolio at DPC and heading IT and cybersecurity responsibilities as well, directed institutions to conduct their cyber security risk assessment to know “which sectors of the economy are vulnerable and how are they going to address the issues.”

He said the FATF (financial action task force) action plan has made him learn to keep a vigilant eye upon the world, especially on enemies as India has played a big role in keeping Pakistan in FATF grey list. “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closure,” he cited a quotation from movie The Godfather.

“The cyber threat which you cannot see, but it is actually there…can be detected and dealt through cyber security risk assessment and using artificial intelligence (AI).”

Muhammad Aurangzeb, President and CEO, HBL, said almost every institution is on its digital journey in Pakistan. In that context, the cybersecurity has become highly important.

“I strongly believe that if anyone things that their organization is not under constant cyber threat or facing constant cyberattacks…they are living in la-la land (utopian world).”

Hussein Hassanali, President ISACA – Karahi Chapter, GM Heat IT Audit, HBL said the threat of cyberattacks is on the rise globally. “Pakistan is also on radar of attackers.”

Dr. Imran Batada, CTO & Director Center of Information Technology, IoBM, said that cyberattacks increased 500% on power division during Covid-19 globally. “India faced 30 attacks daily.”

Total 73 million fishing attacks took place in one-and-half-year. Gaming industry faced 300% increase in ransomware attacks, he said.

The one-day conference also featured three panel discussions including (1) Payment System Threats, (2) Power Sector – Threat to National Security, and (3) Mastering Your Incident Response Plan to Minimize Financial & Reputational Damages.

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