Earlier, news surfaced regarding the alleged data hacking of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
Leading media outlets of Pakistan reported the news while quoting an official from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The official, during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology on Thursday, revealed that the manipulation of the NADRA data resulted in the illegal issuance of sim cards.
“Nadra’s data has been compromised, it has been hacked,” FIA Cybercrime Wing Additional Director Tariq Pervez reportedly told the Committee.
As per reports, he further revealed that the authorities seized 13000 fake sims during a crackdown in Islamabad. Moreover, the FIA wing received 89000 cyber complaints so far. However, it did not have the sufficient number of staff to address the complaints.
“The FIA’s cybercrime wing has only 162 investigation officers,” he reportedly added.
In a later statement, he attempted to clarify his remarks.
“During the SIM verification process involving biometric data, NADRA’s biometric system is compromised,” he said, without providing further explanation.
As the news of NADRA’s alleged hacked data hit social media, the public raised concerns. However, the FIA itself later denied the news aired by media outlets. Taking to Twitter, FIA revealed that the media outlets misrepresented the news.
“It is clarified that no such statement was given about the hacking of data that has been misrepresented. FIA categorical denied the news aired,” FIA said on Twitter.
*Clarification about Hacking of NADRA's data.
It is clarified that no such statement was given about Hacking of data which has been misrepresented.FIA categorical denied the news aired on Dawn news which is not based on facts.
— Federal Investigation Agency – FIA (@FIA_Agency) November 25, 2021
NADRA refutes claims of data hacking
Interestingly, NADRA also categorically denied the claims of the FIA official. In a statement issued after the committee meeting, NADRA spokesman said that the public biometric data was completely safe and denied any hacking.
“The FIA statement regarding hacking of biometric data is based on misunderstanding,” the spokesman said, adding that Nadra would seek clarification from the FIA over the “unnecessary statement and misrepresentation of the issue.”
Important to note, Nadra launched a mobile phone application on August 31 which allowed citizens to use their smartphones for biometric verification.
Last year in April, reports emerged of a data breach involving the sale of data of 115 million Pakistanis on the dark net. However, the interior ministry denied the claims stating that NADRA did not leak any data. The interior ministry told this to the Sindh High Court (SHC).
The SHC heard a petition seeking a probe into reports regarding an alleged data breach of 115 million mobile phone users from Pakistan and its sale on the darknet.
When the matter came up for hearing, an assistant attorney general submitted the comments on behalf of the interior ministry. The report stated that a specialized cybersecurity services firm in Pakistan, itself confirmed the data shared. Furthermore, forensic analysis through various tests also denied any data leakage on part of NADRA.