ISLAMABAD: The government has established a separate agency, National Cyber Crime Investigation Agency, equipped with all the required equipment and skills with which Pakistan’s cyberspace, data of public and private institutions, business transactions, and online activities of citizens can be secured, effectively.

This was stated by Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Umar Saif, addressing the prize distribution ceremony of Digital Pakistan Cybersecurity Hackathon 2023 on Wednesday. The event was organised by the National Technology Fund (Ignite), an organisation of the Ministry of IT Telecom.

He said that the protection of Pakistan’s cyberspace under the PECA Act is very important. Cybercrime, online buying and selling, cyber-bullying, protection of online data, and other services of our citizens, identification of threats and effective action against criminals is our core responsibility.

Dr Umar Saif further said that there was no specific organisation to act against cybercrime, so a cybercrime wing was created in FIA to look after these issues; now we have established a separate agency called the National Cyber Crime Investigation Agency equipped with all the required equipment and skills. Gradually, the authority to act against cybercrime is being transferred from the FIA Cybercrime wing to this particular organisation, which will be able to take effective action against cybercrime.

The federal IT minister said that the first National Cyber Emergency Response Team (National CERTS) has also been established, and Sectoral CERTS will be formed under this organisation. In other words, the government of Pakistan has created an entire infrastructure under an effective strategy against cybercrime, which is being rapidly implemented to make it fully functional.

Furthermore, Dr Saif extended his gratitude to all participants, sponsors, and organisers, who played an instrumental role in making the Digital Pakistan Cybersecurity Hackathon a success. He also lauded the efforts of Team Ignite to hold training workshops and hackathons since October.

“The significance of events like these cannot be overstated; they are pivotal in fostering innovation and collaboration within the dynamic field of cybersecurity. In our increasingly digital world, the prevalence of malware and malicious attacks underscores the critical importance of cybersecurity. The evolving nature of cyber threats necessitates constant innovation to outpace malicious actors” Dr Saif added.

He said that as informed, six teams represented Pakistan at Blackhat’s cybersecurity competition in Saudi Arabia this year and four of them were ranked in the top 35 teams out of 250 international teams who participated in the event. This is a good first step by Pakistan and Ignite and I hope we have at least one team in the top 10 teams at next year’s Blackhat competition.

Recognising the need for robust collaboration, the IT minister emphasised the importance of a partnership between the government, private sector, and academia. The private sector’s support for cybersecurity initiatives is pivotal, and we encourage ongoing collaboration to fortify our cybersecurity defences.

Chief Executive Officer Ignite Asim Shehryar Hussain said the IT Ministry and Ignite are on a relentless pursuit of identifying and nurturing talent capable of thwarting malicious cyber attempts on our national networks. Our progress is evident in the establishment of operational readiness for Pakistan’s National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT) and the imminent institutionalization of a Cyber Security Authority. Creating awareness about cybersecurity among the public is paramount.

Education plays a crucial role in shaping a safer digital space, and it is imperative that we collectively work towards this goal.

Ignite successfully conducted the scheduled hands-on training sessions in 10 cities, complemented by a special three-day training session tailored for government sector employees held in Islamabad. Moreover, regional hackathon rounds were conducted in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, and Islamabad.

It is worth mentioning here that prior to the awards ceremony, 21 teams from six cities were vying for cash awards totalling Rs3 million, contested each other in a grand finale. Furthermore, participants in the hands-on training sessions received training vouchers worth Rs6 million, with awards extended to the top 50 individuals. This comprehensive programme underscored our commitment to skill development and innovation, fostering collaboration across various sectors.

The top three winning teams from last year’s hackathon have already been granted international sponsorship. These teams secured their positions in the Blackhat competition held in November 2023 at Riyadh, KSA.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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Parvez Dec 28, 2023 11:05pm
As if our bureaucracy isn't heavy enough......we keep adding agencies and adding to an already overburdened exchequer.
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