News / Science & Technology

Japan to Upgrade Its Cyberdefense Capabilities

Fiber optic cables carrying internet providers are seen running into a server room at Intergate. File photo.
Fiber optic cables carrying internet providers are seen running into a server room at Intergate. File photo.
Reuters
Civil servants from across Japan recently gathered at Japan's Interior Ministry to receive their first training session on how to defend themselves against a cyber assault.
 
Japan has no central agency tasked with defending the nation in cyberspace, and technicians from Japan's key ministries have been brought in to test their skills.
 
Officials say the threat from hackers is rising and upping Japan's game is increasingly urgent.
 
The country's Cabinet Secretariat, which staffs a small 24/7 cyber surveillance team, says it detected 1,080,000 potential attacks against the government's networks in 2012, for an average of about 3,000 potential attacks daily.
 
That was nearly double the 660,000 incidents logged in 2011. 
 
“There has been a spike in the number of targeted cyber attacks on the Japanese government, so increasing our ability to deal with them is a matter of urgency,” said Satoshi Murakami, an analyst at the Interior Ministry.
 
Now Japan's defense ministry is adding cyberspace to the realm of national defense, joining sea, air and land.
 
The ministry is seeking a budget increase to reorganize its loosely-spread technicians into a centralized force of 100 cyber analysts.
 
However, so far it only monitors its own internal network, which safeguards secrets from ballistic missile defense to joint technology development with the U.S., and officials say it's struggling to handle even that.
 
“If you ask me what I need, I'd say I don't have enough people, equipment or money to do the job. Every year cyber threats are getting more and more complicated, and attacks like viruses have become increasingly difficult to detect,” said Kazunori Kimura, head of cyber planning at Japan's defense ministry.   
 
“Cyber attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, and sometimes we cannot defend against them using the systems we currently have in place,” he added.
 
Experts say malicious software that infiltrates computer networks and leaves behind spy programs has been successfully used in recent years against Japan's space agency, national lawmakers and its finance and agriculture ministries. A source close to the defense ministry's cyber program says the ministry is attacked on a daily basis.
 
But, as yet, Japan has little idea where the hacking is coming from.
 
Analysts are prevented from following or countering hackers by laws that prevent retaliation and the production of viruses.
 
That stops investigators from penetrating beyond computer systems that may have been “hijacked” by hackers to disguise their real location.
 
“We've all got our hands tied by legislation here in Japan - we can't even investigate who is doing the hacking. So even if the Defense Ministry was hit by a cyber attack, they could do no more than a private sector company. That is to say, they can only sit there and watch the attack. There's just no way they can find out who did it, what their methods are, or what country or organization they're from,” said Itsuro Nishimoto, head of technology at LAC, a security company that advises many Japanese government departments.
 
“They have a clear idea of what defines a physical attack, they know how to respond if Japan's attacked with something like a missile. But in cyberspace they've got no idea what to do. They don't know if some cyber attacks could have a military purpose, or how Japan could respond to them if so. It's not even being discussed,” he said.
 
The defense ministry says it is “studying” how it can respond to cyber assaults.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid