Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cyber Security & the Role of State and Local Governments

The field of Cyber security always fascinates me as its crucial for both digital government`s security and international security—areas of my interest. In state of union address, Barack Obama called cyber security as top priority. As illustrated in the following video, he talked about potential enemies who are seeking to sabotage the US financial systems and power grids”. State networks remain under attack because it is very difficult to assess skills of . Hence importance of Intrusion detection and detection is mandatory against cyber security. is inevitable. 

I was wondering what part the state and local governments can play to tackle cyber threats and implement cyber security? How can they avert cyber threats from criminal hackers who endeavor to commit frauds, steal personal information (Social Security numbers, credit card information) of citizens, foreign agents who hack a country’s enterprises to steal away valuable research and development data or confidential business information?

I explored websites addressing the cyber security issues that governments can take various steps to manage these risks. For instance a country can devise a state or city cyber security strategy to evaluate the most critical state assets that need utmost protection like critical utilities and emergency response systems. A state can also entrust its state or local Chief Information Officer (CIO) and formulate a government-wide cyber security Committee to collaborate on programs, priorities and resources and encourage a government-wide culture of cyber security.

Then I came across a news article that discussed  Pakistan`s government initiatives to implement aforementioned cyber security strategies to set up a “cyber authority” that would be a special court to tackle cyber crime and all such related disputes. Also Pakistan`s government is keen to establish an emergency unit to counter attacks that are contrary to Pakistan’s interests. The laws for these two bodies would be implemented through a consolidated compendium known as the Electronic Documents and Prevention of Cyber crimes Act, 2014 that also aims to update several other laws related to information technology or cyber activity by formulating a consolidated piece of law to fight against crime and to encourage electronic and computerized businesses via legal documents, e-signatures, etc. The final 30-page draft of the Electronic Documents and Prevention of Cyber crimes Act, 2014 includes cyber crime, crimes and terrorism committed against the state with the help of advance technological means. Under Article 10 of the Constitution, the law endeavors to form a 7-member corporate body known as the Cyber Authority of Pakistan that will effectively cater all issues connected with cyber activity through its expert glass prism and also avert and contain cyber crimes effectively and resourcefully. The Cyber Authority will be entrusted authority to conduct training for cyber-protection and cyber-investigation teams. The government will form a Cyber Emergency Response Team headed by the secretary of information technology, consisting of two experts to quickly handle cyber-security issues of national significance and also bridge the gulf between the government and the Cyber Authority. Because of the critical nature of crimes, under this act the government will also establish a Cyber Tribunal headed by a chairperson and consisting of well-known judges and lawyers of high courts and information technology experts hailing from the fields of internet services, cryptography and telecommunications.

  I believe the Pakistani government deserves an applaud to take such a step because apart from some legislative models present in east Asia and the West,  such a regulatory authority would be first of its kind in the region. Also it is a commendable measure to avert cases in which persons misuse electronic devices to attack national infrastructure and pose a threat to the interests of the state.


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