The National Telecommunication and Information Security Board (NTISB) has issued a warning about the potential for a cyberattack to occur on Pakistan’s Independence Day, which falls on August 14, 2023.
The board has expressed concerns that hostile elements or state-sponsored malicious actors might launch a cyberattack aimed at disrupting services and defacing websites to tarnish Pakistan’s global image.
In response to this potential threat, the NTISB has released an advisory titled “Prevention against Website Compromise on the Eve of National Days.” This advisory highlights the historical tendency of hostile elements to target government departments, ministries, and defense sector websites on national days, aiming to cause disruption and defacement.
The NTISB’s advisory emphasizes the importance of taking proactive security measures. It urges website administrators and service providers to enhance their security precautions, such as implementing web server hardening and monitoring traffic and data integrity. The advisory outlines specific steps to safeguard against website defacement and hacking attempts.
Notably, the NTISB has been actively issuing advisories throughout 2023, addressing a range of cybersecurity concerns including cyberattacks, hacking, fraudulent emails, and protection guidelines for individuals, government employees, and websites.
Key recommendations from the advisory to avoid cyberattack include:
- Keeping system and network devices up-to-date.
- Implementing a log retention policy for at least three months on separate devices to capture attacker reconnaissance.
- Upgrading both the operating system and web servers to the latest versions.
- Restricting access to the website admin panel only to white-listed IP addresses.
- Employing input validation techniques to defend against SQL injection attacks.
- Conducting thorough analysis and penetration testing to identify potential threats.
- Deploying the entire website on local servers, including the database and web infrastructure.
- Using the HTTPS protocol for secure communication between clients and web servers.
- Installing the application and database on separate machines with robust security measures.
- Storing sensitive data in encrypted form with no direct public access.
- Minimizing database user privileges and granting limited access within programming code.
- Implementing thorough security hardening for endpoints and servers, avoiding unnecessary ports and applications.
- The advisory underscores the importance of security from cyberattack preparedness and vigilance in safeguarding Pakistan’s digital landscape against potential cyber threats during significant national events.