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Pakistan looking for WhatsApp alternative to protect official data: report

November 21, 2019
Pakistan looking for WhatsApp alternative to protect official data: report

Pakistan is trying to develop a local instant messaging application to protect its official data and sensitive information from hackers and hostile intelligence agencies, the Arab News reported Wednesday.

Senior government and military officials have already been barred from using WhatsApp to share any classified information, the English-language daily reported citing government officials.

“We have been working to improve our cyber security and develop a messaging application like WhatsApp for government officials as part of the move,” Dr. Arslan Khalid, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s focal person on digital media, told Arab News.

“This local application will help us protect sensitive government data and other classified information from hostile spying agencies and hackers.”

Pakistan is ranked among the top seven countries with the worst cyber security as over 25 percent of its mobile phones and 14.8 percent of computers are infected with malware, according to a study conducted by UK-based tech firm Comparitech.

The country is now planning to introduce intranet in government offices and develop a local alternative to WhatsApp to protect the official data from being hacked.

The authorities sprang into action after an Israeli spyware firm NSO was sued by WhatsApp/Facebook in the United States on October 29 for “violating both the US and California laws as well as the WhatsApp terms of service.”

A malware named “Pegasus” was employed, reportedly between April 28 and May 10, which affected approximately 1400 senior government and military officials in twenty countries including Pakistan.

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