Japan may boast of the most high-tech gadgets and inventions, but when it comes to cyber security, they leave much to be desired. In the “two plus two” meeting between the defense and diplomatic chiefs of Japan and the United States, cyber defense will be one of the foremost topics to be discussed as the former looks to defend itself from the onslaught of malicious internet hackers.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will be meeting with their US counterparts Chuck Hagel and John Kerry respectively on Thursday to discuss the various security issues in the region, with a strong focus on Japan’s inability to properly defend its Internet. According to Kazunori Kimura, the Defense Ministry’s director of cyber-defence planning, the current systems they have in place is not effective enough for the growing sophistication of these cyber attacks. “I don’t have enough people, equipment or money to do the job,” he admits. The usual attacks are more into looking into and even stealing files, but later on they can lead to paralyzing entire communication systems.
Japan has seen well-publicised cyber attacks in the past years, including the 2011 breach into Mitsubishi Heavy, the government’s prime military contractor, as well as an attack on the parliamentary computer systems. The government networks were constantly hit by 3,000 potential attacks every day in 2012, which is more than double the previous year. An unidendtified source had this to say about the attacks: “The Defense Ministry gets hacked every day, but all they do is watch and then after the fact simply report that there has been an attack.” He also said no one inside the ministry really understands cyberspace and so the problem worsens.
The government realizes this problem, hence setting up the Cyber Security Group within the ministry, to be operational by next year. They are also seeking to increase the budget to centralize the work of their 100 cyber analysts. The US and Japan are seeking to come up with an agreement on “enhanced information security” which includes cooperation in space and cyberspace.
This also comes at a time when both countries are dealing with strained relations with China, where most of the cyber attacks originate from.