Experts highlight challenges and opportunities in Pakistan’s cybersecurity arena

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ISLAMABAD: /DNA/ – A round table discussion on ” Cyberwarfare Trends: Assessing Pakistan’s Cybersecurity Preparedness and Protective Measures” was organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) Islamabad. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Haider Abbas (DG, National Computer Emergency Response Team), Dr. Zunera Jalil (Chair, Department of Cybersecurity AU), Mr. Fahad Nabeel (Research lead at Geopolitical Insights and Lecturer NDU) and Mr. Faisal Imtiaz (CISO, NTC).

Members of the think tanks, ambassadors from foreign offices, research scholars, and corporate representatives were among those present. The session was formally initiated with the opening remarks by President IRS, Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz. Acknowledging the importance and relevance of cyber warfare, he mentioned that the gravity of threats in cyberspace is due to its borderless nature. He pointed out the lack of a Cybersecurity Culture in Pakistan and advocated that we, as a society, need education and awareness to build discourse around cybersecurity and practice cyber hygiene.

“The right data is the new oil,” stated Dr. Haider Abbas. He followed up the discussion by highlighting shortcomings in three main aspects: legislation, technology, and human resources in the realm of cyberspace in Pakistan. He made a point about Pakistan’s technological dependency as a tech consumer state, with the use of pirated software posing a threat to the cybersecurity structure. He further identified Pakistan’s non-layered approach in terms of internet connectivity as another challenge. He also pointed out gaps in academia, such as a lack of a skill set and teaching without compliance.

He ended his remarks by mentioning the need to realize the irresponsible and misuse of digital media platforms as a nation. He shared that NCERT has assumed the responsibility of fostering academia-industry collaboration to bridge these gaps. Spotlighting the delays in policy-making, he gave hope and conveyed the message that Pakistan can still catch up to global cybersecurity trends if it utilizes this time with responsibility. He also stated, while concluding his remarks, that the collaborative engagement of academia, industry, think tanks, and policymakers will be the key driver for a robust cybersecurity landscape.