The federal government has advised all state organs, including regulators, to “refrain from collaboration, installation and use of Indian origin” artificial intelligence (AI)/information and communication technology (ICT) products as it may pose a “constant, concealed and force multiplier threat” to Pakistan’s critical information infrastructure (CII).
The government informed the authorities of the threat via a “cyber security advisory” — which was obtained by Geo News — shared with federal, and provincial ministries including sectoral regulators.
It noted that globally AI products and services are being used by various industries including financial and banking sectors to accelerate enterprise growth.
“It has been learned that the fintech sector of Pakistan including a few banks are engaged with Indian origin companies who are offering them IT products, Cyber Security and AI solutions, etc,” said the document. It added that the “use of Indian security products/solutions” was a constant, concealed, and force multiplier threat” to Pakistan’s CII, including the banking sector, for two reasons.
The factors were identified as a “possibility” of “backdoor or malware” in the products to collect “logs/data traffic analysis and personally identifiable information (PII)”. The other factor it pointed out was that it was “direct Indian ingress in Pakistan’s CII through technical means/access control with passive monitoring capability”.
“Above in view, all Federal/Provincial Ministries including sectoral regulators are requested to sensitize their affiliated setups/organisations/licensees, on the risks involved in the use of Indian origin products/solutions,” said the document. While refraining the authorities from using Indian products the government directed them to instead consult with Pakistan Software House Association (P@SHA) to “find Pakistani technical companies for suitable economical alternatives”.