KARACHI: Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom (MoITT) is going to form a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to quash the impact of growing numbers of cyber attacks, especially on government institutions.

For the purpose, the ministry has invited around 266 cyber security experts from different districts of Sindh for a special test. The successful cyber security experts will not only receive huge cash prizes but also become a part of the CERT that will be formed to encounter growing numbers of cyber attacks especially on government institutions.

The two-day event the "Cyber Security Hackathon" was organized by MoITT's attached department 'Ignite' at a local hotel, which was attended by federal minister IT Syed Amin ul Haque, Member IT Syed Junaid Imam, CEO-Ignite Asim Shehryar, cyber security experts and others.

The purpose of the "Cyber Security Hackathon" was to train and prepare cyber security experts in Pakistan under the country's first cyber security policy issued by the MoITT. It will also test the capabilities of existing experts and train cyber security experts at the national level and these experts will prevent and respond to cyber-attacks on national and private institutions.

It is worth mentioning that a few weeks ago, the FBR website was hacked and the most important data was compromised. In June this year, Pakistan's leading musical streaming website "Patari" was cyber-attacked and hackers released data on 257,000 users on the dark web.

Last year, K-Electric's system was hacked and ransom demanded. The 8.5 GB data of millions of users was posted on the dark web due to non-payment. The data of Meezan Bank, Bank Islami was hacked but the bank asked the customers to change their PIN codes immediately which minimized the loss.

The online taxi service "Careem", Peshawar ATM Services, Sindh High Court, PTV Sports and many other institutions were hacked and the latest attack was on the data of the National Bank.

Addressing the Cyber Security Hackathon, Federal Minister IT said that millions of cyber-attacks were being carried out every day across the globe including 5.5 million ransom-ware attacks through malicious software.

During the last year, such attacks almost cost USD 20 billion to international organizations. He said that many Pakistani institutions, banks and important companies have been targeted by cyber-attacks, causing alarmingly serious cyber security issues for the data of our institutions and consumers.

"If the institutions still do not follow the instructions of the Ministry of IT, irreparable damage could be done. How to stay safe from cyber-attacks is explained in detail in Pakistan's first cyber security policy. Many institutions do not even have cyber security systems."

He said that we had to develop an integrated mechanism in case of any cyber-attack on any public or private institution of Pakistan and it should not only be stopped but also retaliated.

He said that the event was aimed at not only spreading awareness among the public about cyber security but also picking the cyber security experts across the country, inviting the youth to come forward and be a part of the most important field as cyber security jobs were ranked fourth in the world in terms of demand as per the report of the World Economic Forum.

In his welcome address, Asim Shahryar Husain, CEO Ignite said that the growing importance of cyber security has placed it at number 7 among 21 future sustainable technologies with a growth projection of $270 billion by 2026.

The world has already faced enormous damages because of ransom-ware and cyber-attacks. "Keeping in view the importance of trained human resource in cyber security, we are giving you an environment over the next 2 days to get practical skills, meet industry experts, leaders and peers to hone your skills," he said. A large number of students and professionals attended the event.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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