Non-Traditional Threats: Cyber Security – the New Frontier and a Possible Response

The nature of warfare in the twenty first century has transformed at a mindboggling pace. Andre Beaufre classic definition that strategy is “the art of the dialectic of two opposing

wills using force to resolve their dispute,” is increasingly being seen through the lens of technology. The kinetic approach is being replaced by new means such as targeting the enemy’s computers and computer networks to steal vital information from their databases and to bring them down, when critical decisions are being made or executed.  Social media is being aggressively used to spread fake news to erode a nation’s confidence and to spread chaos and mayhem among the people.

What is being dubbed as the fifth generation warfare or hybrid warfare needs an out of the box response. This paper proposes that new national security strategy should be framed keeping in view the technology based threats. It posits that there should be A Whole of Government (WGA) approach to prepare for new threats emerging on the horizon. All institutions of the state and the citizens and not the armed forces alone should be involved in defending the physical and virtual frontiers of the nation.

The author is of the view that to mount a credible response there is a need to reorganize the available resources of the Government to create a National Office for Cyber Security (NOCS) at the highest level. This office should coordinate the cyber defences at all tiers and should have the necessary human and material resources and funds to counter this threat imaginatively. This office should be mandated to form part of all national security planning.

Keywords:   Cybersecurity, fifth generation warfare, hybrid warfare

*The author is a retired brigadier. He is currently the Associate Dean at the Centre for International Peace & Stability (CIPS), National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST), Islamabad

ACRONYMS CERT – Computer Emergency Response Team

CIA – Central Intelligence Agency

CPEC – China Pakistan Economic Corridor

CSIRT – Computer Security Incident Response Team

CSF – Coalition Support Fund

FB – Facebook

GB – Gilgit Baltistan

IAG – Iran Action Group

IMET – International Military Education Training

FATF – Financial Action Task Force

NCA – National Command Authority

NDMA – National Disaster Management Authority

NOCS – National Office of Cybersecurity

NSC – National Security Council

PECA – Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act

PLC – Programmable Logic Controllers PRD – Perceived Relative Deprivation Psy Ops – Psychological Operations

SCADA – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition

The Evolution in the Nature of Warfare

The evolution of warfare has matched the pace of the development of the human civilization. From throwing stones to hurling missiles, warfare has followed a breathtaking trajectory, matched by significant strides in scientific knowledge. The collective human wisdom based on the works of scientists and philosophers belonging to all parts of the world ranging

from the orient to the occident contributed in making revolutionary inventions and innovations in military systems. In modern times, there has been a phenomenal increase in technological progress. From the first wobbly flight of the Wright brothers’ heavier than air powered aeroplane in 1903 to the advent of fighter planes in the First World War to remotely controlled pilotless armed drones in the twenty first century, has been a remarkable journey. The aerial flight and the voyage into outer space have all been products of the indomitable flight of human imagination. Seemingly unsurmountable hurdles have been crossed and human thinking has broken free from the shackles of long held taboos and straitjacketed thinking. Fifteenth century renaissance scientist Copernicus proved that the planets revolved around the sun and Isaac Newton was able

to decipher the mystery behind the gravitational pull in the seventeenth century. Einstein’s theory of relativity and his belief that the atom – the smallest known particle – can be broken and powerful bombs made became the inspiration for nuclear scientists. The advent of the weapons

of mass destruction brought about a paradigm shift in the nature of war. It was no longer the preserve of chivalrous knights in shining armor but a brutal fight in which there was no distinction between combatants and non-combatants.

In the post Second World War era, the evolution in warfare acquired a tremendous momentum of its own. New ideas and thoughts triggered new advances in cutting edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and machine reading. The days of close combat were replaced by remotely controlled and autonomous firing platforms that can make their own choices of whom to kill and whom to spare. Today we have entered the digital age of warfare, where there are no physical barriers and wars are fought 24/7.

The purpose of this paper is to study the use of cyber technology in waging war. The aim is to propose a cybersecurity policy to strengthen the nation’s cyber defenses. In doing an analysis has been made of how psy ops is being practiced in the digital age. A brief case study of

Iran has been made to understand the nature of threat and a case has been made towards the end of establishing the National Office of Cybersecurity (NOCS).

Psychological Operations (Psy Ops) as a Tenet of Warfare

The basic purpose of war has always been to defeat the enemy and to force him to submit to your terms and conditions and save losses to own troops. A quick victory with relatively little bloodletting can take place, when the enemy is defeated in his mind. Mental conditioning is done inter alia through slick propaganda and by spreading malicious rumors. This forms the essence

of psy ops. The purpose of these operations is to undermine the nation’s confidence and morale, and destabilize the leadership’s decision-making capabilities. The best strategy is to defeat the enemy on the internal front. French strategist Andre Beaufre’s classic definition that strategy is “the art of the dialectic of two opposing wills using force to resolve their dispute,” 1   is now being increasingly practiced through use of technological means.

Psy ops has been the bedrock of all military operations since times immemorial and over time has been perfected into a sophisticated operational art form. Specially trained operatives carefully select a whole of array of plausible themes to be played up during various phases of conflict to change perceptions and influence thought processes. Subtle techniques like rumors and fake news are used to influence the target country’s value and belief systems, emotions, motives, reasoning and behavior patterns. Even before hostilities breakout, a subtle campaign is launched through active propaganda to instil a defeatist mind set within the enemy ranks. The adversary nation is led to believe that it does not have the potential to stand up to the looming threat and the best way out is to sue for peace on the terms of the opposing party.

Traditionally spies and fifth columnists have been used to influence the minds of the enemy’s political and military leadership and sow doubts among the populace. These mind games form the backbone of hybrid or fifth generation warfare. It aims at influencing the enemy’s state of mind at all levels including the leadership as well as the common man through non-combative / non-kinetic means. All kinds of spurious activities are generated to overawe the enemy and erode its will to put up a spirited resistance. History is replete with examples, of

battles being lost without being fought e.g. when the Muslim forces from the city state of Medina

1 Andre Beaufre, Introduction to Strategy (London: Faber and Faber, 1965), 22.

concentrated outside Makkah on 11 January 630 CE; large fires were lit to give the impression of a very large force. This was enough to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. The leaders of pagan Makkah lost the appetite to put up a fight and surrendered to make use of the general amnesty being offered.

The purpose of a meaningful psy ops campaign has always been to deceive and fool the enemy by exaggerating own military capabilities and sowing doubts in the minds of the opponent about his own capabilities. In the last century inflated dummy tanks and guns were deployed to fool the surveillance aircraft about the strength of the opposing forces. In the two world wars, special camouflage units used imaginative ploys to deceive the enemy.  Camofleurs or camouflage artists used deceptive imageries to fool the enemy during the First World War.2   This art form was perfected during the Second World War by surreal artists painting life like

imitations foe effective deception.

At the tactical level, aircraft dropped chaff to hide their positions from radars and flares to deceive the incoming missile. Tanks emitted smoke to build thick screens to blanket their movement. At the strategic level, fake mobilization and radio chatter was created to depict dummy movements. During the Arab Israel War of 1973, the Egyptian Army sent their soldiers on leave and fired the Soviet advisors to instil a sense of complacency among the Israelis, while their own forces prepared to storm the Bar Lev Line.

Dropping leaflets has been a favorite tool employed by intelligence units to inform the soldiers on ground and the common citizen that battle was over and that no harm would come to them if they cooperated with the victorious forces. In the Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm 1990-1991) and 2003 invasion of Iraq, US forces dropped propaganda leaflets

to not only demoralize the much vaunted Iraqi Republican Guards but also to win the hearts and minds of the citizenry by reassuring them about the honest intent of the invading forces. During the UN peacekeeping operations in Somalia in the early 1990s, leaflets were dropped to emphasize on the common Somali to not side with the warlords and to accept the Americans as

saviors and not conquerors.

2 Peter Gilbertson, “Camoufleurs: Artists who helped to develop and implement camouflage in WW1,”

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/community/4595 (accessed September 16, 2018).

One of the most common method to project an image of invincibility is to hold large scale military parades to showcase a nation’s military might. During the days of the Cold War Soviet Union would hold huge military parades with a great deal of fanfare to celebrate the communist revolution.  Goose stepping soldiers and latest tanks and self-propelled or towed missile carriers would roll down the cobbled streets of Kremlin, as jets thundered overhead. North Korea still organizes such parades and so do India and Pakistan. Donald Trump is also thinking of holding a military parade in Washington DC to impress the perceived enemies of the US.

Lately the rivalry between Russia and the West that was supposed to have ended with the demise of the Cold War has resurfaced. Tensions have become prominent in Ukraine after

Russia re-annexed Crimea. The West is also worried about the growing influence of Russia in Central Asia and the Middle East. China and Russia together are gelling together to form a new economic and defence bloc. In this era of re-emerging alliances and re-alignments, British have accused Russian agents of using nerve agents like novichok to kill defectors on its soil. Although the British government has used brave words to condemn the Russian interference on their territory, it does send a strong message that the Russians can strike anywhere.3 The alleged Russian interference in the US elections in 2016,4 also builds an image of them striking outside their borders with impunity and influencing the results of an event of national importance.

In times of conflict a well thought psy ops campaign can effectively influence the thought processes of the enemy its entire life cycle. In this regard, convincing themes are played out to diminish the enemy’s will even before the first bullet has been fired. Imaginative twists are given to perpetuate the existing myths to inflict a psychological defeat in the enemy’s camp. Unless the leadership displays extreme resolve to counter propaganda by feats of brilliance on the battlefield and by keeping the population motivated, element of fear can penetrate and destroy the national will to fight on and survive battlefield losses.  After ending the war on a favourable note, a sense

of guilt is created in the minds of the defeated people. This mentality was ingrained in the

3 “Salisbury Novichok poisoning: Threat from Russia is ‘real’ – GCHQ,” BBC, September 7, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-45444080 (accessed September 12, 2018).

4 Karen Yourish & Troy Griggs, “8 U.S. Intelligence Groups Blame Russia for Meddling, but Trump

Keeps Clouding the Picture, New York Times, August 2, 2018,  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/16

/us/elections/russian-interference-statements-comments.html (accessed September 17, 2018).

conscience of the German people after the Second World War. The word holocaust was made sacrosanct and those denying it were prosecuted under law. The German nation was made to inherit the guilt of National Socialism and the killing of the Jews was made a stigma that succeeding generations still bear and no amount of penance is enough to wash it away.

Similarly, the Japanese people were made to believe that they deserved to be bombed because of the follies of their Imperial General Staff. The nation that had prided itself for its samurai culture has rejected war and adopted the creed of pacifism. The post war leaders wrote it into their constitution that they would never go to war again.

In modern day scenario social media is being aggressively used to induce the feeling of defeatism and hopelessness. Even before having fought a war. This is compounded by cyber- attacks that not only penetrate, damage, subvert and destroy the enemy’s computer systems and networks to sabotage its decision making system but also to negatively impact on the national morale by spreading propaganda, hate and despondency.

The Case of Iran

As mentioned in the beginning, it is worth examining the case of Iran to understand what kind of challenges that Pakistan can face. Iran first fell afoul of the West, when Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh announced the nationalization of the Anglo Iranian oil company in the early 1951. These were exciting times, as countries breaking free of imperialist shackles were re- asserting control over their own resources. Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt would nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956 and the imperial powers Britain and France alongwith Israel had responded by attacking Egypt in the Sinai. In Iran, the Shah had become an ineffectual ruler as Mossadegh had risen in the nation’s estimation. Unable to wield any influence over his populist prime minister and having failed to launch a coup through his generals, the young Pahlavi king fled the country in August 1953. The CIA sprang into action.  Operation Ajax was launched by their station chief Kermit Roosevelt to reinstate the Shah through a bazar coup in which the merchants rose in revolt against the prime minister.

Regime change in Iran has always been high on the CIA’s agenda. After Ayotallah Ruholluah Khomeni successfully returned to Tehran on February 1, 1979 at the head of the Islamic Revolution after the Shah had finally fled Iran, there were fresh worries for the US. Their embassy was ransacked and 52 of its diplomats were held hostage for 444 days but more than

that they scrambled to contain the Iranian revolution that had the potential to spread globally. As a first step they worked to weaken the government of the Islamic republic and promote internal dissent. In order to do so President Saddam Hussein of Iraq was encouraged to attack Iran. The Iraq-Iran war lasted for nearly eight years (1980-88). The Arab countries and the US supported Iraq in a war that finally ended in a stalemate.

After the war the Iranian government turned its attention towards developing their nuclear program. Iranian President Ahmadinejad became the West’s bete noire because of his pompous statement that he intended to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. The US in collaboration with Israel developed stuxnet, the deadly virus that interfered with the functioning of Siemens Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems controlling the enrichment centrifuges and the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) managing the machinery in the assembly lines.  The virus was first discovered by the Iranians in 2010 and had by then infected more than 200,000 computers and cause 1000 machines to degrade. The Iranian nuclear program was set back by years. Once the Iranians were able to overcome the problems caused by stuxnet, the Five plus One (the P5 and Germany) and the EU forum was used to engage Iran in negotiations to stop its program. Heavy sanctions and adroit diplomacy on part of all parties involved brought about the agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

to delay the breakout time for making the bomb.5 After signing the JCPOA Iran dismantled most

of its centrifuges and surrendered its fissile stocks to earn a temporary reprieve from the crippling sanctions and reclaim some of its funds in the western banks. All this effort was nullified after Trump came into power and the Agreement concluded between seven nations was unilaterally nullified and sanctions re-clamped on Iran.6

As this was not enough, in August 2018, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced the creation of an Iran Action Group (IAG) to change the Iranian regime’s behavior. It was declared this Group would be responsible to direct, review and coordinate all official activities related to  Iran but will mostly focus on the issues of nuclear weapons, terrorism and the

detention of American citizens. The overall aim is to weaken the Iranian government, so that it

5 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, US Department of State,  https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/iran/jcpoa/ (accessed September 14, 2018).

6 On President Trump’s Decision to Withdraw from the JCPOA, Statement of Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, Washington DC, May 2018,  https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/05/281938.htm (accessed September 14,

2018).

will pull back in the region and become more amenable to the policies of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.7

Non Traditional Threats against Pakistan

The example of Iran provides good insight into the scope and nature of the emerging threat. On the external front intense propaganda is being spewed out to tarnish Pakistan’s image as a state not capable of looking after its nuclear weapons and to portray it as a country that allows its territory to be used for sponsoring terrorism. This theme is being repeated with increasing frequency. It was not unnatural that in his first telephone call to Imran Khan, the new prime minister of Pakistan, Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State “raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.”8 During his visit to Pakistan a week later he repeated the same message.9

It is alarming to note, how the issue of terrorism is being twinned with the safety and security of the nuclear weapons. Speaking to a select gathering in a Washington DC based think tank, National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton stated that the US was aware that aid stoppage to Pakistan, a nuclear armed country could make it vulnerable to take over by terrorists but this decision had been taken because the US wanted Pakistan to cooperate fully in the war against terrorism.10

On the internal front, malicious rumors are being spread to cause discontent and disillusionment among the masses; and hate and virulent ideologies among an impressionable

segment of the society. Hate speech demonizing certain segments of the society has actually

7 Remarks on the Creation of the Iran Action Group, Remarks of Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, Washington DC, May 2018, August 16, 2018,  https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/08/285183.htm (accessed September 14, 2018); Krishendev Calamur, “The U.S. Is Developing a New Way to Weaken Iran: ‘The State Department’s Iran Action Group will mostly focus on ‘nukes, terrorism, and the detention of American citizens’.”

The Atlantic, August 17, 2018,  https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/us-iran/567751/ (accessed

September 12, 2018).

8 Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Readout Office of the Spokesperson, Washington DC, August 23, 2018,  https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/08/285365.htm (accessed September 14,

2018).

9 Secretary Pompeo’s Meetings in Pakistan, Readout Office of the Spokesperson, Washington DC, September 5,

2018, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/09/285708.htm (accessed September 14, 2018).

10 Anwar Iqbal, “Stopping Aid to N-Country not done lightly: US,” Dawn, September 13, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1432631 (accessed September 13, 2018).

become a major problem. Social media since it is difficult to control is used blatantly to build public opinion against the marginalized elements in the society.

Proxy wars are being sponsored in restive areas such as Baluchistan, the tribal areas and some areas of Gilgit Baltistan (GB). Kulbhushan Jhadev, a serving commander of the Indian Navy working for the Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) was caught in Balochistan and confessed for his involvement in acts of espionage, sabotage and terrorism.11

There is also evidence that RAW and Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) are sparking ethnic unrest in the tribal areas.12 More recently schools have been blown up in Diamer district of GB. It is being surmised that it is being done allegedly to forestall the construction of the dam in the area and to create apprehensions about the infrastructure projects related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Elements hostile to Pakistan are blatantly injecting huge amounts of monies to fuel the feeling of perceived relative deprivation (PRD) particularly among people of those areas that are extremely poor but rich in mineral resources. Understandably it is easy to stoke public anger in such places. This is especially true for Balochistan, a resource

cursed area with endemic poverty and poor indices in social sector i.e. education, health, employment and sanitation.

Pakistan’s woes have been exacerbated by piling up direct and indirect political attacks and economic sanctions. These harsh measures have naturally weakened the Pakistani government’s ability to counter internal and external threat. The worst attack came from the American

President himself, when he angrily tweeted on the eve of the New Year accusing Pakistan of lies and deceit. His tweeted threateningly:

The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No

more!13

11 Transcript of Jadhav’s second confessional statement, The News, June 23, 2017, https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/212479-Transcript-of-Jadhavs-second-confessional-statement (accessed September 17, 2018).

12 RAW NDS behind Pashtun Tehfuz Movement (PTM), Times of Islamabad, April 9, 2018, https://timesofislamabad.com/09-Apr-2018/raw-nds-behind-pashtun-tehfuz-movement-ptm (accessed September 17,

2018).

13 @realDonaldTrump, 5.15 pm, January 1, 2018.

Even before the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took over, it was being surmised that it would be forced to go to the IMF for a bail out to tide over a deficit of 8 to 12 billion dollars. On 30 July before the new government was inaugurated, Secretary Pompeo warned:

Make no mistake. We will be watching what the IMF does…. There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself.14

Also hanging in balance is the sword of Damocles to place Pakistan in the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).   Pakistan was officially was made part of the FATF’s grey list on June 29 this year due to ‘strategic deficiencies’ in its anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regime.15 Ever since, the government is under extreme stress to tighten its financial regulatory mechanisms to stop illegal transactions that could go to the terrorists.

This pressure was ratcheted up by the US Government by not reimbursing 350 million dollars as part of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) payments of services already provided,16 and by suspending the International Military Education Training (IMET).17

The situation has been made worse because Pakistan has been subjected to a barrage of cyber-attacks. According to the Snowden leaks of 2013, Pakistan is the most spied upon countries of the world.18   National databases have been regularly attacked and one doesn’t know for sure how much information was syphoned off. The biggest database in the country is that of the National Data Registration Authority (NADRA) that holds the information about all

registered citizens and aliens. There have been reports of hacking into NADRA database and

14 “Pompeo warns against IMF bailout for Pakistan that aids China,” Reuters, July 30, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/30/reuters-america-update-1-u-s-pompeo-warns-against-imf-bailout-for-pakistan- that-aids-china.html (accessed September 16, 2018).

15 Shahbaz Rana, “Pakistan formally placed on FATF List,” Express Tribune, June 30, 2018, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1746079/1-pakistan-formally-placed-fatf-grey-list/ (accessed September 16, 2018).

16 US takes major decision over Coalition Support Fund to Pakistan, Times of Islamabad, May 9, 2018, https://timesofislamabad.com/09-May-2018/us-takes-major-decision-over-coalition-support-fund-to-pakistan (accessed September 16, 2018).

17 Anwar Iqbal, “US cuts military training programme for Pakistan ,” Dawn, August 11, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1426335 (accessed September 16, 2018).

18 “Snowden files reveal US has increased surveillance in Pakistan,” RT, September 3, 2013,

https://www.rt.com/usa/snowden-leak-pakistan-nuclear-358/ (accessed September 17, 2018).

stealing of information.19 Other hacking incidents include the one into the database of ride

sharing service Careem, containing information about 14 million customers and 558,000 captains active on the system across 13 countries, including Pakistan.20 The exact nature of data loss is

not known and what could be the potential fallouts is yet to be determined.

Worse still was the collapse of the Result Transmission Service (RTS) during the recent national elections. The jury is still out to determine what really happened and whether it was a technical glitch or an act of malfeasance to tamper the election results?21 One thing quite evident from this fiasco is that there were no emergency services available to set it right and restore the service a much vaunted system that NADRA had developed at a great deal of cost.

Response

The author is of the view that to counter the looming threat, a systemic response should be based on the following steps:

Awareness at all levels

First and foremost, there should be awareness at all levels, particularly about the dangers inherent in the unchecked growth of the social media in Pakistan. There are currently around 40 million mobile broadband (MBB) subscribers in the country and there are over 44 million social media accounts. The most popular platforms are Facebook, WhatsApp and twitter. According to information available on open sources, there are 35 million Face Book users as of 2018 (two

third are men, one third women), there are 7.1 million liine users (a company that allows its users to combine music with technology), 3.9 million Instagram active users and 3.1 million twitter

and snapchat users.

Social media is frequently used for diverse purposes i.e. e-commerce, socio-political discussions, social vigilantism and political activism. WhatsApp has been used to spread rumors

19 “WikiLeaks tweets reminder that ‘US and UK had stolen NADRA records’,” Express Tribune, June 7, 2017, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1429538/wikileaks-tweets-reminder-us-uk-stolen-nadra-records/ (accessed September

17, 2018).

20 “Careem users’ personal data compromised in massive data breach.” Dawn, April 23, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1403401 (accessed September 16, 2018).

21 RTS Failure, Dawn, Editorial, August 28, 2018,  https://www.dawn.com/news/1429434 (accessed September 16,

2018).

in India resulting in frenzied killings.22 After this madness reached epidemic proportions WhatsApp placed a number of advertisements in mainstream national newspapers in Pakistan informing the users to exercise caution before forwarding unsubstantiated messages and not believe everything that they receive on this social media platform.23 In order to prevent mass panic and fear, it is important for the government to educate the people to make sensible use of social media and not become inadvertent tool in the hands of those spreading disharmony and hate.

Whole of Government Approach (WGA)

The important thing is to build a national response that involves all government ministries, institutions, public and private ventures. There should be no silos and private turfs in this vital effort. To make this an institutionalized effort, a Task Force (TF) should be set up to consider all issues related to fifth generation warfare. This TF should be responsible for policy formulation, allocation of resources and developing human resource. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed as the head of the senate committee for defense had suggested the formation of a joint TF on cyber security policy in 2013 with the mandate to:

[D]efine the nature of the new emerging threats to Pakistan’s national security & defence in the digital battlefield and to prepare Cyber Security Policy, in consultation and with cooperation of experts and professionals.24

It was believed that this TF would come into action after the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) was passed. The legislation came into effect in 2016 but a cyber-policy lost the priority of that government. This joint TF needs to be revived on an urgent basis.

Pakistan Computer Emergency Response team (PK CERT)

22 Sugam Pokharel & James Griffiths, “India WhatsApp rumors: Mob kills man in latest attack, 30 arrested,” CNN, July 16, 2018,  https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/16/asia/india-whatsapp-lynching-intl/index.html (accessed September 17, 2018).

23 “WhatsApp steps in to fight false news in Pakistan,” The News, July 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/343285-whatsapp-steps-in-to-fight-false-news-in-pakistan (accessed September

17, 2018).

24 M Mathar, “Senate Defence Committee announces Task Force for Cyber Security Policy, https://propakistani.pk/2013/04/21/senate-defence-committee-announces-task-force-for-cyber-security-policy/

One serious deficiency in Pakistan cybersecurity infrastructure is the absence of a CERT or Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT).  A CERT should be a mandatory emergency responder at the national level and should function as a part of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Computer system breakdowns can lead to long downtimes resulting in financial losses and an absence of command and control systems. There is a need for legislation on this subject and allocation of urgent funds to run such an emergency service. Regular drills at the national level are also a need of the times.

National Office of Cybersecurity (NOCS)

In order to coordinate and consolidate all cybersecurity activity there is a requirement to establish the office of NOCS. Most digitally advanced countries including India have an office for the national cyber security coordinator. Gulshan Rai, the first chief of cyber security of India sits in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and heads the national cyber-coordination center (NCCC) with a budget of Indian Rs. 1,000 crore.25 He has direct access to the prime minister.

Most government and corporate offices have a Chief Information Officer (CIO) with a large budget. Pakistan also needs cyber-security czar to coordinates the efforts of civil, military and private organizations. He should have the institutional backing of the prime minister himself. He should have adequate budget to shore up the national cyber-security defenses.  He should

have the wherewithal to coordinate all policy matters related to cyber security and the autonomy to allocate funds, where necessary. He should be the top advisor on all cyber-legislations, treaties and agreements and should be the ex-officio member of the National Command Authority

(NCA) and the national Security Council (NSC). He should be the one overseeing investment in human resource, and software and hardware development. He should be the one to identify and update the national critical infrastructure.

Conclusion

Hybrid and fifth generation warfare is a reality that we can ignore only at our own peril. It is absolutely essential to strengthen our cyber defenses and protecting our critical

25 Varun Agarwal, “Gulshan Rai becomes first chief of cyber security; post created to tackle growing e-

threats,” Economic Times, April 22, 2015,  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/gulshan- rai-becomes-first-chief-of-cyber-security-post-created-to-tackle-growing-e-threats/articleshow/46449780.cms

infrastructure and vital data. Most developed countries are investing enormous resources in making their cyberspace impregnable. Unless the government takes this threat seriously, there is a likelihood of gross breaches of security through nontraditional means of warfare.

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