Japan’s Cybersecurity Initiative

Since Japan will be hosting both the Rugby World Cup in September this year and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the nation will gain a lot of attention from the public. Within that, there are threats from cybersecurity attacks. In a year and a half, the nation will undergo network security testing implementation to ensure that there is no data breach and outsider malicious attacks. There are chances for events like the Rugby World cup and the Olympics to attract unexpected attempts of exploitation attacks on vulnerable systems.

The Diplomat reports, “Washington and Tokyo have vowed to intensify their cooperation on cybersecurity while signalling that the United States could come to the aid of Japan if it faced a serious computer-based attack.” Both nation’s ministers attended the two-plus-two meeting in Washington, DC, on April 19 to discuss effective solutions on encountering the cybersecurity threats.

The Japanese ministers expressed issue regarding “rapidly evolving technological advancement in new domains, including space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum.” The ministers also stated, “international law applies in cyberspace and that a cyber attack could, in certain circumstances, constitute an armed attack for the purposes of Article V of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.” Takeshi Iwaya, the Japanese defence minister, cited from the reporter on Article Five that coverage was “significant from the perspective of deterrence.”

There are several implementations the Japanese government is planning to enact to provide security for the nation in the cyberspace. Firstly, the country will be strengthening its cyber military which NATO formally declared is an official battlefield in June 2016 next to air, land, and sea for the purpose of preventing threats from China and especially North Korea. Tokyo government sources told local media that they hope that just by being in the possession of a cyber-weapon, this would deter foreign actors from attacking the country. Although it seems to be unlikely, it would be a problem with the cyber-weapon if the nation makes a decision to use the weapon for unethical activities. Another implementation is testing on the public. The Japanese government passed legislation allowing National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) authorities to hack into the citizen devices which are vulnerable, as part of an unprecedented survey of insecure IoT devices. The initiative is to document the number of vulnerable devices and provide a warning to the public about matters. Even though in the field of ethical hacking, this implementation is considered to be grey-hat hacking, which is a type of exploitation without the consent of the owner of the property and mostly provides feedback to the owner about the vulnerability, it is up to the people of Japan to decide whether it is acceptable for the country.

The meeting brought up the treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and The United States of America signed in 1960 and questioned how it is linked to cybersecurity issues. According to The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and The United States of America, each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes.

In brief, the Japanese government will pursue, to the best of its abilities, strong procedures in protecting their nation’s cyber-infrastructure.

Sophanith Song