The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) reportedly shut down its website and all related platforms on the 75th Independence Day (14th August) over hacking concerns. According to reports, the FBR’s website and linked portals remained inaccessible to overcome hacking concerns for more than 24 hours and became operational earlier today before the start of official working hours. They were shut down late Saturday night and remained inaccessible throughout Sunday, disrupting the process of filing income tax returns.
FBR Will Develop Shutting Down Website on 14th August as a Routine Practice Over Hacking Concerns
Speaking in this regard, Tahir Jappa, FBR’s spokesperson, confirmed that FBR’s website and linked portals remained shut down for over a day, terming the development a routine practice over hacking concerns. On the eve of 14 August last year, the FBR underwent a huge cyberattack that affected its website and related platforms. However, the hackers were not able to access the data of taxpayers. A preliminary internal investigation into the cyberattack revealed that the use of pirated software was one of the reasons why FBR’s system got hacked.
Moreover, back then, FBR was using a pirated version of the Microsoft Hyper-V software which enabled the hackers to easily breach the tax authority’s system. In January 2020, Alice Wells, the then Chief US Diplomat for South Asian Affairs, during a four-day visit to Pakistan, also accused FBR of using pirated software and warned the FBR about the possibility of a cyberattack on the tax authority’s system because of it, which raised the hacking concerns.
PRAL Supplied Pirated Version of Softwares to FBR
In response, FBR clarified that it was unaware of the use of pirated software because Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL) is its service provider. In March 2020, PRAL issued a tender, seeking bids for the supply, installation, and configuration of network equipment, servers, data center precision cooling, upgrade and support for storage area network and backup solution, and Microsoft Windows for its data center in Custom House, in order to bring down the circulating hacking concerns.