President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi inaugurated country’s first national cyber security academy at Air University in Islamabad on November 23, 2021. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi has inaugurated country’s first National Cyber Security Academy at Air University in Islamabad. The centre was launched on the sidelines of the two-day International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security 2021 at PAF Complex, Islamabad.

The center has been established with the collaborative efforts from Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Air University and Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Addressing the ceremony, Dr Arif Alvi declared cyber security as one of the most pressing threats to national security. He underlined the importance of building Pakistan’s capabilities in cyber security to protect its critical systems and data by investing in professionals and solutions to reduce the risk of cyberattacks in all sectors. “It is time for Pakistan to secure its boundaries from all sorts of cyberattacks in all domains” from defence, energy to financial infrastructures, he said.

A strong cyber capacity is cyber crucial for countries to develop and advance in economic, political and social spheres, he said. Appreciating the industry-academia collaboration for the establishment of Cyber Security Academy, Dr Alvi urged the need to integrate cyber capacity building and development policies by involving cyber community, academia and policy makers.

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by PAF Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber, Vice Chancellor Air University Air Marshal (Retd) Javaid Ahmed, and Air Vice Marshal Abbas Ghumman, Director General C4I PAF and other civil, military and foreign dignitaries.

Developing a cyber force

PAF has been working closely with academia to strengthen the research and development efforts in the cyber domain and transform the academy into an effective and highly responsive cyber force.

At the ceremony, Air Vice Marshal Abbas Ghumman, highlighted PAF’s contributions in establishment of Cyber Security Academy and detailed PAF’s plan to establish Air Force Cyber Command with support from Cyber Technology Park and Cyber Center of Excellence under National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP).

Air Marshal (Retd) Javaid Ahmed said that objective of the Cyber Security Academy was to develop a team of cyber experts for government, industry, public and private sector organizations to address emerging cyber security threats.

Cyberattacks on the rise

Cyberattacks have been listed among the biggest threats facing the society, according to World Economic Forum (WEF) report. All industries face greater risk to cyberthreats due to increasing digitization.

The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) database recently suffered cyberattacks disrupting services. K-Electric, the electricity provider for Karachi city, was also hit by a ransomware attack that blocked billing and online services. Pakistan’s IT & Telecom Minister Syed Amin-ul-Haque recently said that the ministry is developing a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to prevent and respond to cyberattacks on national and private institutions.