ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The government has warned all information technology (I.T.) and financial institutions, including regulators, to avoid using "Indian origin" artificial intelligence (A.I.)/information and communication technology (ICT) products because they could pose a "concealed" threat to the country's Critical Information Infrastructure (CII).
The government notified the relevant authorities of the threat via a "cyber security advisory" obtained by Geo News and distributed to federal and provincial ministries and sectoral regulators.
It was noted that various industries worldwide, including the financial and banking sectors, are using A.I. products and services to accelerate enterprise growth.
"It has been learned that Pakistan's fintech sector, including a few banks, is engaged with Indian-origin companies that offer I.T. products, Cyber Security, and A.I. solutions." The document stated.
It said the "use of Indian security products/solutions" posed a "constant, hidden, and force multiplier threat" to Pakistan's CII, including the banking sector, for two reasons.
The factors were identified as a "possibility" of a "backdoor or malware" in the products to collect "logs/data traffic analysis and Personal Identifiable Information (PII)."
It also stated it was "direct Indian ingress in Pakistan's CII via technical means/access control with passive monitoring capability."
"With this in mind, all Federal/Provincial Ministries, including sectoral regulators, are requested to sensitize their affiliated setups/organizations/licensees on the risks involved in using Indian-origin products/solutions," the document continued.
Instead of using Indian products, the government directed the authorities to consult with the Pakistan Software House Association (P@SHA) to "find Pakistani technical companies for suitable economical alternatives."
According to a Forbes report, Exodus Intelligence, a U.S. company based in Texas, stated two years ago that India used its "zero-day" security vulnerabilities, which hackers can use to attack systems, to spy on Pakistan and China.
After an investigation, Exodus CEO and co-founder Logan Brown believes India handpicked one of the Windows vulnerabilities from the feed, allowing deep access to Microsoft's operating system, and Indian government personnel or a contractor adapted it for malicious purposes.