Pakistan

Massive Data Breach at NADRA: 8 Officers Suspended

In a noteworthy move, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan has begun taking disciplinary measures against a number of its officers following a major data breach. This breach, which was confirmed by a joint investigation team (JIT), involved the theft of personal information of at least 2.7 million Pakistani citizens from NADRA’s database.

The disciplinary action has resulted in the suspension and charging of eight officers, with potential penalties looming for over a dozen more. The individuals facing action include three officials from NADRA’s senior management: Usman Cheema and Usman Javed, both holding the posts of Director General (DG) Technical, and Karachi DG Network Ahmarin Mir. Other officers facing disciplinary action include Faisal Ayub, Khair Mohammad Soomro, Rana Zulfiqar, Ali Mohiuddin, and Muhammad Ibad.

The decision to initiate disciplinary action was made following the recommendations of the JIT. The JIT, headed by Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) official Syed Waqaruddin and comprising representatives of sensitive agencies and NADRA’s nominees, was formed by the government following a cybersecurity incident that took place in March 2023.

The JIT’s investigation revealed that the data theft occurred between 2019 and 2023, with the data being stolen from NADRA offices in Multan, Karachi, and Peshawar. The stolen data was allegedly transported from Multan to Peshawar, and then to Dubai. There is evidence to suggest that the stolen NADRA data was later sold in Argentina and Romania.

The JIT report recommended action against the relevant senior officials of NADRA whose negligence led to this massive data theft. The report was submitted to the Ministry of Interior, and the officials concerned at the ministry are currently reviewing its contents.

In light of these events, NADRA has been urged to take measures to safeguard citizens’ data and prevent future breaches. These measures include regulatory actions and technology upgrades.

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