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Ministry to beef up hacking defenses

by Hiroko Nakata

Staff Writer

The trade ministry plans to beef up its database for cyber-attacks against Japanese companies and institutions to help analyze the latest trends and methods so they can protect themselves from organized assaults.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has already earmarked ¥800 million in the 2012 supplementary budget for a new database, in addition to its annual funding of ¥1 billion for existing database operations.

“The trend of recent cyber-attacks has changed,” said Gaku Moriya, a deputy director in the ministry’s IT security policy office.

“In many cases in the past, individual criminals attacked other people’s personal computers just for fun. But now, cyber-attacks are more organized and their purpose is clearly to spy on certain companies,” he said.

The number of attacks has surged. There were 17,000 cases in 2012, more than double the 7,700 reported the year before.

In recent cases, attacks have tended to be sustained over long periods.

“The attacks need to be compared with those related to other companies and those in the past,” Moriya said.

Under the database project, the cybersecurity body JPCERT (Japan Computer Emergency Response Team) will set up a database to gather virus information in coordination with similar bodies in the United States and other countries.

“By doing that, we analyze not only individual viruses but also methods of creating such viruses as well as conditions in which they are used,” said Junko Hayakashi, executive director of JPCERT.

As part of new operations, JPCERT will consider creating decoy servers and PCs to lure computer viruses, she said.