Pakistan’s Cybersecurity Strategy 2021: Progress & Challenges

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As the world becomes more and more interconnected, the “security of cyberspace” becomes a highly important matter that needs the concern of nearly every nation on earth. While Pakistan would go along with many others, it has come to recognize the paramount importance of cybersecurity in protecting its digital assets, assuring national security, and guarding its citizenry’s interests. The success stories are many: the technologically advanced Pakistan made significant steps in this direction by enacting the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (PECA) and the formulation of the National Cyber Security Policy 2021. Nonetheless, although maturity has been seen on the issue, there are both struggles of the spearheads and dilemmas for the visitors to confront the complex situation of cyber governance.

Applicable Legal Framework

PECA prohibits many activities which include unauthorized access, data copying, or data transmission with an intent to disrupt.

The legal system of cybersecurity in Pakistan consists of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), which was enacted in 2016. This broad legislation introduced to regulate the high-level cybercrime cases within the country provides the legal groundwork to help law enforcers through the investigation and trial of electronic cases. PECA prohibits many activities which include unauthorized access, data copying, or data transmission with an intent to disrupt, PECA provides penalties for these types of actions. On the other side, this act demands internet service providers (ISPs) to maintain and store specific traffic data for a defined period, to enable cybercrime investigation and provide support to law enforcement agencies in countering cyber threats systematically.

Apart from PECA, Pakistan is also scheduled to approve the Personal Data Protection Bill 2021, which has been regarded as an important milestone in the attempt to strengthen data privacy for Pakistan’s citizens. After its establishment, this law will take the responsibility for regulating the processing and protecting of personal data, which will adhere to global standards and at the same time address increasing concerns over privacy and security.

National Security Crime Policy, 2021

The announcement of the National Cyber Security Policy 2021 brought a turning point in Pakistan’s cybersecurity scene. Parliament has approved this initiative, which will serve to formulate a cohesive plan to deal with cybersecurity problems and reduce their dangers among different sectors. The policy includes objectives from good governance and infrastructure strengthening to data security and enhancing international cooperation. The policy addresses a range of cybersecurity resilience measures, which lays the foundation for a collaborative response to cyber threats and defence of the digital environment of Pakistan.

One of the most important parts of the National Cyber Crime Policy is the development of the Cyber Governance Policy Committee (CGPC) which is meant to supervise the cyber security processes and provide strategic directions. The high-level committee plays the main part in identifying cybersecurity as the core of national leadership and thus keeps cybersecurity at the top of the agenda of the government and such stakeholders. The CGPC through the creation of a collaborative and coordinated environment among government agencies, private sector firms, and civil society organizations intends to build the cybersecurity capability of Pakistan and to improve its ability to respond to cyber threats.
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Recent Developments

Besides policy measures, the Pakistani government has adopted some strong actions for the maintenance of its cybersecurity structure and smooth capabilities. Another development is that PTA has introduced the Cyber Security Framework, which determines what auditors and licensees are to report incidents and create a transparent and accountable system when managing cybersecurity. Additionally, the launch of the National Telecom Security Operations Centre (NTSOC) is another proof of the country’s resolve to improve the security of its critical ICT infrastructure (Information and Communication Technology) and deal efficiently with cyber threats.

However, as regards Pakistan’s progress in the maturity of cyber defence, it still faces some obstacles. A developing cyber security ecosystem with limited resources, plus the rapid changes in the threat environment; creates many big problems to be solved together by the state institutions in the field of cyberspace and cybersecurity professionals. Capacity building must not therefore be ignored, as well as there should be a focus on public awareness campaigns, collaboration among stakeholders are key element of Pakistani’s cybersecurity strategy and should be given priority and investments regularly to register any meaningful changes.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the actual coexisting obstacles, the cybersecurity landscape in Pakistan allows the country to reach new horizons and get involved in broad cooperation fields. Due to the increase in the number of cyber equipment and security services companies in the country’s customary market, the situation offers readily available opportunities to foreign-based companies, mainly those from the US and other technologically developed countries. The presence of a sound legal system as well as ever growing importance of cybersecurity solutions make Pakistan an attractive country to invest in and partner with for the cybersecurity sector market.

In addition, Pakistan enjoys a strategic location, its young and tech-savvy people, and its cybersecurity stopgap, all these together contribute towards providing an atmosphere that is helpful for cybersecurity innovation and entrepreneurship. By exploiting these advantages and Inculcating collaboration between government, industrial, academic sectors and society civil, Pakistan can fortify its cyber security posture, amplify its resilience to cyber threats and emerge top of cyberspace governance in the regional arena.

Conclusion

Pakistani cybersecurity resilience, as the country’s manifest vision to defend and defend its digital landmarks against cyberattacks becomes more evident with time, is an expression of its determination to stand firm in the face of the challenges of the digital era and to prevent any harm to the interests of its people. Although substantive legislative measures like PECA and the Implementation of the National Cyber Security Policy 2021 have been accomplished, we are nevertheless far from achieving a global governance consensus on the cyberspace realm that is capable of efficiently managing the challenges in cyberspace today.

Compliments of its past successes, the inception and overcoming of the existing problems, and the grabbing of the chances for collaboration and innovation, Pakistan can fortify its cybersecurity system, magnify its resilience to cyber threats, and play a vital and powerful role as a regional leader in Cybersecurity governance. If Pakistan’s leadership and their associates made up their minds and kept up the streak of efforts and investments, then the focus of digital security and prosperity for all Pakistani people can be realized.

The opinions shared in this article reflect the author’s personal views and do not necessarily align with the institution’s official stance.

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