Japan to reinforce cybersecurity hiring, training and countermeasures ahead of 2020 Olympics


The government is poised to greatly strengthen its measures against cyberterrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As was the case with the 2012 London Olympics, the closely watched event is a popular target of hackers. While reinforcing measures to prevent the cancellation of events and mitigate trouble with power supplies and transportation infrastructure, the government is also set to speed up the training of personnel, including the so-called white hackers.

At the London Games, such attacks targeted the lighting system for the opening ceremony, and its official website suffered 2.21 million cyberattacks during the two-week event.

“Cyberattacks against security systems (at the Tokyo Games) could be combined with subsequent physical attacks with weapons,” said Masayasu Murano, chief researcher at the Mitsubishi Research Institute.

As early as this spring, the government will give designations to key support sectors related to the Olympics, such as power supply, transportation infrastructure and accommodation services. Beginning in fiscal 2016, which starts in April, those sectors will be requested to assume they will be the targets of cyberattacks and to devise countermeasures.

Still, due to the constantly developing methods employed by hackers, “it’s difficult to predict what kind of attacks would occur in four and a half years’ time,” said an official with the Cabinet Office.

The countermeasures will thus be updated by observing the types of attacks launched against the Group of Seven summit scheduled to be held in the Ise-Shima area of Mie Prefecture in May and the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

For the urgent task of training personnel, the government will establish a new security qualification, which will include schooling and exams, for supporting information processing as early as April 2017.

The government aims to employ some 30,000 qualified people by 2020 at government agencies and key infrastructure facilities. It will also try to secure a number of white hackers with the same level of knowledge and skills as the attackers.

Due to the difficulty of ensuring a supply of white hackers with the requisite skills, the government will try to recruit personnel through the holding of information technology events and competitions and training camps for young people interested in cybersecurity, officials said.

Cyberattacks are certain to grow more sophisticated by 2020. Improving the nation’s cybersecurity, therefore will be a key factor for the success of the Tokyo Games.