ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Heritage have issued a warning against the use of popular Urdu typing software called InPage, stating the software is likely being exploited for “attacks against financial institutions in Pakistan”.
According to a notification issued by Cyber wing of Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Heritage the owner of the software is an Indian Company M/S Concept “which is most likely working in collaboration with Indian Intelligence Agencies.”
InPage is a popular software allows typing in Urdu, Pashto and Arabic. According the the Ministry’s notification, it is the Urdu and Arabic version of software that is allegedly being exploited to attack financial institutions and government agencies. Elaborating on the nature of the threat posed by InPage, the notification noted: “Attacks are compromising government and banks across Asia by exploiting years-old zero-day vulnerability in desktop publishing application In Page, which target users working in Urdu and Arabic.”
According to InPage’s website, around 1 million people are using InPage in Pakistan followed by 0.6 million in India, 0.2 million in UK and 0.1 million in USA. It is a high chance that those using in USA and UK are also from Pakistani diaspora. This makes Pakistan the largest market that is using this software.
This is not the first time the government has expressed concerns about possible misuse of the software. Earlier, in August 2017, government officials were warned of a malicious email containing InPage file attachment titled “Indian Army kidnaps Pakistan Army officer Lt Col (retired) M Habib from Nepal of spy swap”. According to media reports, the directive issued then by Cabinet Division warned that opening and downloading the attachment could execute a malware capable of remotely accessing a person’s computer and stealing passwords. The directive noted that the malware could affect all versions of InPage uptil 2012 and advised government departments to use other software such as Microsoft Word with Urdu or Urdu Processor 1.1.
Media Matters for Democracy tried to reach out Ministry of Information multiple times for further comments on this notification but did not receive any response till the time of filing this report.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.