Govt officials urged to stay alert after plan to hack sensitive information unearthed

Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration picture taken February 28, 2013. — Reuters
A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration picture taken February 28, 2013. — Reuters

  • PMO says security agencies are fully alert in this regard.
  • Asks officials not to respond to any malicious message.
  • "Hackers bid to get sensitive data by sending WhatsApp links."

The Prime Minister's Office on Friday issued a warning to senior government officials, asking them to stay vigilant of the recent hacking attempts to obtain sensitive data.

In a statement, the PM Office said: "Security agencies have unearthed an attempt of the hostile elements to get access to sensitive information by hacking mobile phones of senior government officials."

These elements, in the name of senior government officials, attempted to get sensitive data by sending mobile hacking links to the WhatsApp of senior government officers and bureaucracy, said the statement.

The PMO also said that all the government officers have been instructed to be vigilant, instructing them to not respond to any such message that could lead to a data breach.

"Besides, government officers have been instructed to immediately inform the Cabinet Division upon receiving such a mobile message," the communique added.

It further said that the security agencies of Pakistan are fully alert in this regard.

Audio clips saga 

The statement comes in connection with several audio clips that came to the fore including government officials. Following this, the security at the PM House was called into question.

Last year in September, a number of purported audio clips were leaked which also included former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif from PM House. 

The first tape allegedly featured then-premier Shehbaz and a senior official. It contained a discussion regarding Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz asking her uncle for a power plant to be imported from India for her son-in-law.

On September 25, two more audios were leaked on social media. One of them was related to a discussion about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers’ resignations and the other was about former finance minister Miftah Ismail.

The second leaked audio that had gone viral on social media — allegedly featuring then-PM Shehbaz, then-interior minister Rana Sanaullah, then-defence minister Khawaja Asif, then-economic affairs minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and others — which contains a discussion regarding PTI’s resignations.

In it, PML-N leaders can be allegedly heard expressing their opinions over PTI’s resignations. They are also talking about London's permission to accept the resignations.

Another audio was leaked in which Shehbaz was heard talking with an unidentified person on the appointment of his special assistants.