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Cyber Security edition: From the Editor

In June 2010, a computer worm referred to as “Stuxnet” allegedly targeted centrifuges at the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. It was claimed that Stuxnet reduced Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity by as much as 30 percent. If these claims are to be believed, a cleverly designed computer program achieved what was hardly possible with a full-blown armed conflict.

In 2012, Visa and MasterCard, the two leading credit card providers in the world, suffered a major security breach, affecting up to 10 million credit cards worldwide. In September 2014, a cyberattack on Home Depot, one of the largest retail stores in the world, resulted in 56 million plastic cards data to be stolen.

As we live in the Information Age, when everything from businesses to wars is shifting from the physical boundaries to the cyberspace, cybersecurity has become an issue of paramount importance.

With the advent of 3G/4G in Pakistan, the Internet usage is rapidly growing in the country. Banks, governments and businesses are increasingly moving their data and services online. It is critically important to develop better awareness and understanding of cybersecurity in Pakistan. There is also a dire need to understand the impact of Internet censorship, legislation and cybercrimes.

This issue of MIT Technology Review Pakistan aims to do just that.

Nahil Mahmood’s article on information security comes from the industry’s perspective. It helps us understand as to why our banking sector is secured by its archaic capabilities and not because of its high level of security protection.

The article by journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid highlights the challenges of digital literacy at a time when the number of Internet users are growing rapidly in Pakistan. It also features opinions of experts from the legal fraternity, nonprofits working for rights in the cyberworld and the Internet security experts.

In Q+A session, Jawad Ali talks to the inventor of the world’s first PC virus ‘Brain’ from Pakistan. This invention by a Pakistani, led to today’s multibillion-dollar antivirus market and information security field. An interesting read indeed which highlights how two Pakistani brothers from a small office in Lahore showed the world that computer systems were exposed to threats and required security.

Ahmad Raza’s article focuses on Pakistan’s cyber-readiness in a global context. It shows why some countries from our region including India are ranked higher on global cybersecurity Index issued by International Telecommunication Union—the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The article by Verda Munir takes stock of the ongoing debate on the cybersecurity laws in Pakistan.

Happy reading! Enjoy!

Dr. Umar Saif

Umar Saif tweets @umarsaif

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