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Pakistan politicians label government cybersecurity team 'incompetent'

MP alleges taxpayer database – which holds personal info on millions – has come under attack

A Pakistani parliamentary committee has labelled its own cybersecurity agency "incompetent".

That damning assessment was offered by the nation's Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication at a Monday meeting convened to brief committee members on the workings of Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

The committee's account of the meeting includes the following statement:

The committee expressed its displeasure on the performance of some departments of the Ministry, especially the performance of the Cyber Security Cell. The Committee directed the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication to address the incompetence of the Cyber Security Cell.

It is unclear if the committee was referring to a specific failure, or just displeased that several government websites have recently experienced DDoS attacks or that Pakistan experiences high levels of cybercrime.

Pakistani news outlet Techjuice reports that committee member Baz Baloch used the meeting to allege that the National Board of Revenue – which holds personal information on all citizens – has twice been attacked recently. The Register has been unable to find further evidence of that allegation, but if it is correct the committee certainly has grounds for complaint.

The timing of the committee's statement also seems notable, as it came the day before Pakistan Defence Day – an annual commemoration of the nation's armed forces.

The meeting also flagged further development of revised Cyber-Crime Cyber Security and Social Media Rules. Pakistan has had a running battle with social media services, often banning their local presences after taking issue with content that appears on the sites. The nation most often protests content considered critical of Islam, but sometimes also takes issue with material that criticizes government officials.

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Parliamentarians will examine whether current social media laws remain relevant, and consider updates.

Additionally the committee expressed its displeasure with efforts to restore telecommunications infrastructure after the recent extreme floods that impacted around a third of Pakistan. ®

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