Disclaimer: The following story, originally reported by Dawn, has since been “categorically denied” by the Federal Investigation Agency. You can see their response here.
In a dramatic and concerning development, it has emerged that the National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) biometric data has been hacked while fake SIMs are also being exported.
In a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication, FIA Cybercrime Wing Additional Director Tariq Pervez revealed that NADRA’s data has been hacked.
“NADRA’s data has been compromised, it has been hacked,” he said.
However, in a statement that he made later, the official clarified that not all of NADRA’s data had been hacked.
He explained that during the SIM verification process which involves biometric data, NADRA’s biometric system had been compromised.
The FIA official told the committee that 13,000 fake SIMs were recently seized during a crackdown in Faisalabad. The cybercrime wing had received 89,000 complaints so far but they did not have enough staff to address the complaints reported on a daily basis.
“The FIA’s cybercrime wing only has 162 investigation officers,” he noted.
The official added that whenever they attempt to trace the culprits responsible for financial fraud cases, they usually end up being elderly people or women, whose data is being used by the real culprits behind the scenes.
On the other hand, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa (retd.) noted that that there been a 600 percent decrease in the sale of illegal SIMs over the past year.
He added that two mobile phone operators have been fined Rs100 million and Rs50 million respectively for not sticking to the law, while over 0.5 million SIMs have been blocked.
This isn’t the first time Pakistanis have been on the end of a data breach. Last year in April, a data breach involving the sale of 115 million Pakistanis’ data on the darknet was reported.