STAFF REPORT ISB: Pakistan does not have an official computer emergency readiness team (CERT) to combat cyber threats and vulnerabilities and this gap is filled by semi-official and privately-run initiatives.

One such effort is a CERT team PISA-CERT, which has recently successfully thwarted a mock cyber attack at the Pakistan Research Centre for Cyber Security while participating in a region-wide annual drill conducted by the Asia Pacific CERT (APCERT).

The Japan-based APCERT cooperates with response teams from Asia Pacific countries to ensure cyber security in the region.

The drill involved a hypothetical scenario where a team of hackers were attacking a government tax website through a botnet – a collection of programmes performing automated tasks that is sometimes exploited by hackers to spread viruses across computers.

The botnet in the scenario consisted of a collection of smart phones that was set up through a series of compromised web servers, said Dr Zaheer Ahmed, the VP of Centre for Advanced Research in Engineering. He said that the Pakistani CERT team successfully neutralised the attack by following different assigned tasks in the allotted time.

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