The upcoming establishment of Japan’s new Cyber Defense Unit (CDU) is, according to security analysts and industry experts, a step in the right direction. But the current set up of the unit – its funding, personnel, and expertise – are, in their opinion, lacking in their objective to protect the nation’s cybersecurity interests.
According to Motohiro Tsuchiya, a professor at Keio University and a member of the National Information Security Center (NISC) – Japan’s top government advisory panel on cybersecurity issues – the initiative to set up the CDU is a very important first step for Japan. The next step, according to Tsuchiya, is to broaden the unit’s field of action through legislation. “For [the unit] to be effective, we need it to be allowed to defend our public infrastructure. We must fundamentally change its role,” Tsuchiya said, alluding to the need for legislation to give strength and backbone to the unit’s role in law enforcement.
Hiroshi Itoh, managing director of the Cyber Security Laboratory at LAC – an IT security company based in Japan – said that he completely agreed with the founding of the CDU. However, he sees several critical weaknesses that must be remedied to effectively protect the unit and the country’s Self Defense Force (SDF) as a whole. Itoh said the CDU will only have 100 dedicated cybersecurity officers. In comparison, South Korea is ramping up its cyber protection force from 500 to 1,000 troops. And because the CDU’s staff will be recruited from inside the organization, Itoh said that the civil servants seconded to the unit will most likely lack specialized skills to play hardball against the experienced hackers they will encounter. “The CDU has too few cybersecurity officers, they are insufficiently trained, and [it] is more like a civil servant police force; they don’t have a strong cyber warrior mentality,” Itoh said.
Itoh, an intelligence specialist and retired colonel who served for 27 years in the Ground Self-Defense Forces, set up the Japanese forces’ initial cyber defense unit seven years ago. He envisions the CDU to have 2,000 to 3,000 dedicated cyber warriors, with a good portion of that number made up of “white hat” hackers recruited from the private sector. This action would require new civil service and confidentiality laws, including huge political will to be able to employ and pay private “white hat” hackers. If the Japanese government is serious about cyber defense, the people behind the CDU’s initial effort need to push a bit more to complete a system that is not merely a token effort but a real honest-to-goodness cyber defense force.
[via Defense News]
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