Suspicion of hacking attempts by Indian hackers, the official websites of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were shut down for more than 24 hours on the 75th Independence Day of Pakistan.
Media reports quoting officials have claimed that three web portals of FBR remained down on Saturday night and Sunday causing disruptions in the process of payments and filing of income tax returns. The main links that were shut down temporarily included iris.fbr.gov.pk, e.fbr.gov.pk and fbr.gov.pk.
FBR spokesperson Asad Tahir has said that it was a routine maintenance endeavour; however, he didn’t confirm the planned time for making the web portals functional.
The media report has also claimed that FBR had shut down its web portal for routine maintenance 10 days ago and had also informed the public about the matter through a notification. The notification issued on August 5 stated that due to the ongoing drive for digitalization key IRIS system was set to upgrade for improved operation, enhanced security and a new graphic user interface. It also stated that from 10pm on August 6 to 10am on August 7 IRIS system would be temporarily unavailable.
Last year Indian hackers attacked the data centre of FBR bringing down the official website for more than 72 hours. The FBR had termed the hacking attempt as an unforeseen anomaly during the migration process to hide its incompetency.
However, then finance minister Shaukat Tarin had confirmed in September that FBR’s website was attacked by Indian hackers. A similar kind of Indian attack took place in 2019 as well.
The government despite having hired a chief information and security officer to protect the FBR’s data centers went ahead with the decision of closing the websites.