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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has summoned Secretary Revenue Division; CEO, Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL), and the FBR Member (IT) for Wednesday (29 Sept) in an investigation into the matter of cyber attack on the FBR website and the hacking of confidential/classified data of the FBR web-portal.

Sources told this correspondence that a notice has been issued to the secretary Revenue Division; CEO, PRAL and the FBR Member (IT) for fixation of hearing on September 29, 2021 at the FTO Headquarters, Islamabad.

According to details, a tax lawyer, Waheed Shahzad Butt, filed a public interest complaint against the FBR/PRAL key position holders, former chairman FBR and member (IT), former member (IT) and CEO PRAL, contending that either the FBR/PRAL official (principal custodian of taxpayer confidential/classified financial record/data) are professionally incapable of protecting the secrecy of Pakistan's taxpayers' record or this debacle is the result of the connivance of the PRAL employees.

The FTO ordered an investigation into the matter of cyber attack on the FBR website and hacking of confidential/classified data.

Complainant advocate states, "It can cause significant economic damages including ongoing crucial CPEC activities."

The FTO notice stated: "The FBR is the largest database that carries information on trillions of rupees transactions, details of wealth and income and expenditures of its citizens. It also has detail about their various personal and business transactions due to various types of withholding taxes that are being deducted on these transactions."

Recently, the FBR has succumbed to a cyber attack and its officer website, the IRIS system and other critical tools remained non-functional.

Thus, confidential/classified data of the FBR web-portal has been hacked/attacked by hackers/blackmailers, bringing down all the official websites operated by the FBR/PRAL and exposing taxpayers' confidential data.

The petitioner accused that the incident revealed that either FBR/PRAL officials (custodian of taxpayer confidential/classified record) were professionally incapable of protecting the secrecy of Pakistan's taxpayers' record or this debacle is the result of connivance of the PRAL employees, it has been accused.

Cyber attacks on key data websites, data, and data centres, pose a threat that can undermine the security capabilities of a state. It can cause significant economic damages, the FTO notice concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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