Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Japan vulnerable to cyber attack


When most of the world was watching the Olympic Games, dozens of Japanese students were enthralled by the world ofcomputer viruses and bugs. 

Some locked themselves in a room and spent six hours analyzing a malware worm called Gumbler that had tampered with the websites of Japanese companies like Honda in 2009. 

"When I ask the instructor to attack my website, he immediately spotted the vulnerability," Yoshihiro Ura, a 19-year-old student at Osaka Prefecture University College of Technology, said. 

He was one of 40 participants at the cyber security camp in August, selected from some 300 candidates. 

According to the Japan Times, the Information-technology Promotion Agency has been sponsoring the security camp since 2004 to raise awareness about computer security among potential IT experts under 22 years. 

While the government is hurrying to set up organizations to counter internet-based attacks, the nation remains vulnerable due to a lack of sufficient numbers of cyber security specialists and effective systems and infrastructure to prevent security breaches, the report said. 

According to a 2012 white paper on information security published by the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japanese companies need 22,000 more people to engage in cyber security. 

"In Japan, companies see cyber security as a cost, while foreign companies see it as an investment," Kunio Miyamoto, a senior expert in NTT Data's information security office, said. 

The white paper also points out that there is no clear career path for such specialists. 

Last year, the computer network for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a primary defense contractor, was infected with a rash of viruses. 

According to the report, rxperts predict that such attacks will increase as firms globalize their systems and products. 

They said that cyber-attacks have the potential to destroy critical infrastructure and it is hard to identify perpetrators, the report said. 

The Defense Ministry announced in September it will set up a cybersecurity division in fiscal 2013 and earmarked 10 billion yen for the project, less than 1 per cent of the 4.7 trillion yen defense budget, the report added.

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