ISLAMABAD: Amid cybersecurity woes, the information technology ministry has completed 60 per cent development work of Pakistan’s own messaging app, ARY News reported on Monday.
The federal government has continued the development of Pakistan’s own communication app for mobile phones that would be used by the prime minister, cabinet members and those working on sensitive positions, sources told ARY News.
While making progress on the development, the Ministry of Information Technology completed 60 per cent work of the secure app and it will present a progress report before Prime Minister Imran Khan after its completion.
Sources said that the new mobile app will look like WhatsApp, however, its interface will not be the same while keeping in view the security and cyber attacks.
In January, it had been announced that Pakistan was planning to launch its own WhatsApp-like messaging app, Smart Office, by June 2021 which will include all modern communication features besides announcing to expedite work on finalising Personal Data Protection Bill
Earlier, it emerged after an investigation by 17 media organizations that was published on Sunday that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were selected as potential targets of the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware program by clients of the NSO Group cyberespionage firm.
The Guardian, one of the media outlets, said the investigation suggested “widespread and continuing abuse” of NSO’s hacking software, described as malware that infects smartphones to enable the extraction of messages, photos and emails; record calls; and secretly activate microphones.
The leaked data had numbers once known to have been used by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Kashmiri leaders, Pakistani diplomats, Chinese journalists, Sikh activists and businesspeople known to be the subject of police investigations.
NSO, on the other hand, said its product is intended only for use by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.
The company issued a statement on its website denying the reporting by the 17 media partners led by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories.