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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs