Serious Cyber Attack Allegedly hits the Japanese Ministry of Defense: Government now Denies
Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Japanese government ministries according to Kyodo News confirmed that a serious cyber attack happened in September aimed at the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Apparently, the leakage of sensitive information may have been breached by the alleged attack. However, it remains unclear – despite hints – if the cyber attack was implemented by a foreign nation-state agency, or by expert hackers outside state institutions.
Yet, once news emerged about the alleged cyber attack from Kyodo news, and other sources, then another official from the Public Affairs refutes the initial report. This baffling chain of events – after all, Kyodo news cited ministry sources and the news was covered by The Japan Times – is leading to further suspicions.
It emerged initially that hackers bypassed internal security mechanisms in order to penetrate the computer system of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s. This in itself is a major wake-up call if verified because Japan is beset by several territorial issues and clearly classified information, preparations, operations involving third-parties, and so forth, needs to be protected.
According to an unnamed senior official belonging to the Ground Self-Defense Force’s, the cyber attack led to “A very serious situation. We must quickly take measures to prevent a recurrence.”
The cyber attack allegedly targeted the Ministry’s Defense Information Infrastructure that connects the various bases of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. This in itself shows the weakness in the system if confirmed because once the frontline is breached then other areas of national security are penetrated.
APP source reports, “The attack occurred through unauthorized online access to National Defense Academy and the National Defense Medical College computers, which were used as “bridges” to penetrate the internal network of Japanese bases.”
Information related to the alleged attack is more severe than recent cyber attacks that have hit state entities or private Japanese companies over the last few years. This is based on the area of national security in relation to this cyber attack. Overall, it points in the direction that Japan is ill prepared against highly professional hackers – or alleged external state hacking entities – that seek to obtain highly classified information or to create cogs in the machinery during times of vulnerability.
Denials by a Public Affairs official after information released is adding to confusion because initial sources stress, “Kyodo news had cited ministry sources in an earlier report, which said that the hackers didn’t leave a detailed trail and the extent of the damage was unclear.”
Bloomberg says, “In 2011, a cyber attack on military contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. was believed to have targeted defense technology, according to the Nikkei newspaper. Japan’s space agency, JAXA, also suffered cyber attacks in 2013, and a naval officer was convicted in 2008 over the unauthorized sharing of information related to the Aegis missile defense system.”
The current issue about the alleged attack remains murky because a credible news source based in Japan quotes officials from the ministry. Also, the area of the cyber attack was mentioned in depth and reported by major news outlets in Japan, for example, The Japan Times covered the story. Therefore, something is clearly amiss because you have “no smoke without fire!”
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