ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) biometric data has been hacked.
The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing revealed on Thursday that the biometric data with Nadra was compromised while fake SIMs are being exported. The FIA Cybercrime Wing Additional Director Tariq Pervez revealed this during a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication. He said, “Nadra’s data has been compromised, it has been hacked”.
Later while attempting to clarify his remarks, he said that all of Nadra’s data had not been hacked. Pervez remarked, “During the SIM verification process involving biometric data, Nadra’s biometric system is compromised”.
The FIA official informed the NA body that 13,000 fake SIMs were detained during a crackdown in Faisalabad. He shared that the number of cybercrime complaints registered with the wing had reached 89,000 so far and that there is a shortage of staff needed to address the complaints reported on a daily basis.
He noted, “The FIA’s cybercrime wing only has 162 investigation officers”. He also informed the NA body that every time they trace the culprits behind financial fraud cases, they generally turn out to be an elderly person or a woman, whose data is being used by the real culprits.
The chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), retired Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa said that no mobile phone company had been granted permission to sell SIMs door-to-door.
He said, “There has been a 600 percent decrease in the sale of illegal SIMs during the past one year”. He added that people’s thumbprints are being taken using “illegal methods”, and that the thumbprint system was now phased out. Bajwa shared those two mobile phone operators have been fined Rs100 million and Rs50m, respectively, while over 0.5m SIMs have been blocked.
The PTA chairman shared that 26,000 fake SIMs were found during the month of October. He continued that a complaint can be lodged against those involved in sending messages of financial fraud on the authority’s website.
Nadra launched a mobile phone application on August 31 which allowed citizens to use their smartphones for biometric verification. Last year in April, a data breach was reported that involved the sale of data of 115 million Pakistanis on the darknet. However, the interior ministry later told the Sindh High Court that no data related to Pakistani mobile users was leaked on Nadra’s part.