ESSAY TITLE: CYBER THREATS TO THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF PAKISTAN
WRITTEN BY: RAHAT SHAH PANEZAI
In the age of Information Technology, use of keyboard and mouse is more dangerous than the conventional war tools. Cyber-Terrorism, Cyber Warfare, or Information War is possibly at the most serious end of the spectrum of security challenges posed by and within cyberspace. It can be used to attack the national security of state, such as the machinery of state, financial institutions, the national energy and transport infrastructure and public morale. Cyber-Terrorism is a global problem and as such requires global attention with initiatives to punish and deter cyber terrorists worldwide. It is a threat that has only surfaced world-wide in the past decade and evidence shows that it is here to stay. With the resourcefulness of terrorists and their adaptability to ever-changing society and technology, it is a form of threat and virtual warfare that needs to be recognized, re-evaluated, and responded to in the current and projected time-frame.
The Government of Pakistan as well as the armed forces seem to have neglected this threat for too long now and are not prepared to readily respond to this new challenge. Cyber warfare can enable actors to achieve their political and strategic goals without the need for armed conflict. Cyber war is more dangerous than a physical war. Attacks on the cyber networks have become one of the most serious economic and national security threats to the nation that faces; it certainly carries a lot of importance. When technology is available it could be used by anybody. Cyber-terrorism involves attacks on computer networks and impacts anything from national grid to hospital computers or online banking accounts.
Cyber technology has clear military applications which can be exploited in conflict situations. Whether through military equipment and weapons systems, satellite and communications networks or intelligence data, armed forces are highly dependent on information and communications technology. Cyber espionage, terrorism and extremism, economic cyber-crime are the most prevalent of cyber activities. Whether used to uncover sensitive government information, steal trade secrets or commercial data or as part of intelligence or reconnaissance work, organized criminals, the asymmetries of cyberspace and its hidden depths can be a valuable resource for non-state actors such as terrorist and extremist organizations, the increasing potential for financial institutions to be the target of digital attacks. These all fits into the doctrine of using information superiority to achieve greater victories at a smaller cost.
Pakistan must take immediate steps to respond to this threat. It would need absolute coordination, planning or understanding within various civil and military organizations and intelligence agencies responsible for the cyber warfare and perception management through propaganda wars in the cyber space. This should be clearly understood that in the modern world only those nations would have advantage in the battlefield, in both conventional and unconventional wars, which have fought and won the war in the cyber world first. Weapons like E-bombs have emerged as a new threat to cripple the military communication infrastructure by producing massive electromagnetic pulse. So, Pakistan urgently needs a centralized, aggressive and pro-active command for cyber and information warfare. The cyber threats to critical infrastructure is strategic in scope; and the national response must be equal to the task i.e. development of cyber law and international cooperation.