ISLAMABAD: Experts on Tuesday stressed on the need for comprehensive Cyber Security legislation to deal with the significant emerging national security threat.
A day long seminar ‘Security in Cyber Space: Implications and Challenges’ organized by Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) brought together security and foreign policy experts, scholars, policy makers and members from legal and technical community to deliberate upon the theoretical, technical and operational dynamics of security in the cyber domain.
Speakers at the seminar, which was divided into three sessions, examined the nature of the cyber threat, the various aspects of cyber warfare, international legal regimes governing actions in cyber space, scope for diplomacy in addressing the matter, and the need for a defined national cyber policy.
Executive Director CISS Ambassador (retd) Sarwar Naqvi, in his opening remarks said: “The question of how and when will the next cyber attack happen keeps States occupied about their security. For this reason, there is a need to understand the nature of cyber security and identify the areas in which states both internally and externally can cooperate for mutual benefit.”
Mr Ammar Jafrri, who heads the taskforce on cyber security set up by the Senate’s Defense Committee, in his remarks regretted the absence of a cyber security policy in the country. He said politics and inter-ministerial conflicts were hindering the policy
formulation and legislation on this crucial aspect. Jaffri noted that Pakistan was not prepared to deal with a cyber security emergency. “Where is out CERT (*computer emergency response team) for internet security incidents,” he asked and pointed out that time was running out fast to prepare a response strategy. Former law minister and international law expert Ahmer Bilal Soofi also mentioned the absence a “comprehensive legislation” on cyber-security in Pakistan.
He said that discussions were taking place at the multilateral fora to explore the need for an international convention on cyber issues. Soofi feared that getting an international convention would be difficult.
Senior Fellow CISS Syed Muhammad Ali said: “The effects of most Cyber threats to traditional security are immediate and significant in the short/medium-term but are slow, long-term and deep towards non-traditional security.” He said Cyber Threats to the society are more lasting and gradual than to the State. Ali said cyber security policy should be subordinate to the overarching national security policy.
Defense Analyst Dr Riffat Hussain cyber warfare becomes an attractive option for the attacker because it uses latest innovation, allows anonymity, provides disproportionate power to otherwise weaker actors, low entry cost, cheaper in execution, easy delivery, proliferation of tools and avoided use of combat troops.
Academician Dr Tughral Yamin said all regions of the world, except for South Asia, were developing mechanisms for dealing with challenge in the cyber space. He said India was not interested in developing a regional arrangement on cyber security with Pakistan.
Dr Yamin said Pakistan would have to first put its own house in order by enacting domestic legislation and putting in place required mechanisms before looking to others for a regional mechanism. He said if Indian inflexibility continued, Pakistan should talk to other countries in the region for developing a regional CERT.
Vice President National Press Club Syed Baqir Sajjad discussed the threats
to journalists in the realm of cyber security. He said cyber-security doesn’t resonate with the journalists the way some other issues do because they do not fully comprehend the matter.