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NA panel takes up proposal to set up national cybercrime centre

By Tariq Butt
August 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly (NA) panel will discuss on Aug 25 a proposal to establish a national centre on cybercrime, which has been prepared by the ministry of foreign affairs.

It has been officially announced that the 20-member Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication will deliberate upon the proposal. However, record shows that at least two such centres are already working at the government level. One is the National Centre for Cyber Security (NCCS) that was commenced by the government in June 2018. The project is a joint initiative of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Planning Commission.

The centre constitutes research and development (R&D) labs in reputed universities of Pakistan, which were shortlisted after the open call for proposals made by HEC in early 2018. After scrutiny in two rounds of evaluation, technical proposals from 11 universities of Pakistan were shortlisted. These universities were given the mandate to establish NCCS affiliated labs in different specialised areas of cyber security under the secretariat of centre. The Air University is entrusted with the status of NCCS Secretariat in addition to the two affiliated labs in the domain of cybercrime forensics and smart devices and networks security.

It has been stated that the centre makes strong connections between symbolic and non-symbolic computation, conjointly between applied and theoretical areas. It is based on solid mathematical modelling, empirical investigations, and experimental research involving development of secure system. It depends heavily on the core areas of computer science and computational intelligence.

In this regard, the centre is, perhaps, unique in terms of its commitment to both theory and practice in the field of cyber security. It assembles strong research laboratories to conduct research in the areas of cybercrime investigations, digital forensics, intrusion detection systems, internet security and privacy, malware analysis, critical infrastructure security, mobile phone security, Blockchain Security, and cyber reconnaissance.

The second is the National Response Centre for Cybercrime of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Inception of this Hi-Tech crime fighting unit transpired in 2007 to identify and curb the phenomenon of technological abuse in the society. The centre is the latest introduction to the FIA mandate, primarily to deal with technology-based crimes in Pakistan. It is the only unit of its kind in Pakistan. In addition to directly receiving complaints, it also assists other law enforcement agencies in their own cases.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Office, meeting on Aug 26, will get in-camera briefings on different issues including India’s continuing siege of the occupied Kashmir, steps taken by Modi to change its demography and options for Pakistan and international community; US-Taliban peace agreement, its follow-up and its impact on the region; Pakistan’s foreign policy regarding Southeast Asian countries; and implementation status of the recommendation of the committee for the extension of Pakistan Mission School in Syria.