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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid