Hackers made some 58,000 attempts to break into police computer systems from October to December, up 7,000 from the previous three-month period, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

By country, hacking attempts from Israel accounted for 40.4 percent of the total, followed by the United States at 20.8 percent, according to the NPA’s Cyber Force unit, which was set up to monitor and combat “Net-based terrorism.”

Hacking from within Japan made up 9 percent of the total, and South Korea 7.2 percent. Italy, which topped the list at 20.6 percent in the previous period, fell to sixth place at 3.8 percent.

“We do not clearly know what brought about the ranking change but suspect that attackers may have transferred their bases to Israel from Italy,” officials of the unit said.

The NPA said nearly 90 percent of the incidents consisted of attempts to learn what kinds of programs are being used on police computers.

These attempts are regarded as “preparatory activities” for more serious assaults, the Cyber Force unit said.

Some 10 percent of the October-December hacking incidents were attempts to shut down or take control of the systems, the agency said.

Most attacks via Israel were of the “preparatory” variety, whereas four-fifths that arrived via South Korea were aimed at controlling the systems, the unit said.

Net dating crackdown

The National Police Agency unveiled a final report Thursday that calls for regulating online dating services accessible via mobile phones and personal computers to curb abuses, including child prostitution.

The report, which incorporates public opinion and is a followup to an NPA interim review made public in December, was submitted to the National Public Safety Commission.

According to the final report, 80.2 percent of the 106 respondents approved the government plan to regulate such dating sites.

The NPA said 90 percent of the respondents approved a proposal to ban minors from taking part in services offered by the dating sites, and 75.1 percent approved a call to fine minors who do so. Under the Child Welfare Law, minors are defined as those under 18 years of age.

The agency said it plans to draft a bill incorporating the report’s recommendations to regulate these dating services and submit it to the Diet later this month.

The report underlines the obligation of parents, guardians, schools, mobile phone companies and other authorities to supervise minors and prevent them from using such sites.

As for the site operators, the report urges that they be obliged to display on-screen warnings that minors are not allowed access, and to confirm the age of clients.

There will be no regulation of other Internet or mobile phone services that cater to people searching for friends with common hobby interests, among other things, the NPA said.

The NPA said the same day there were 1,731 criminal cases in 2002 related to online dating sites, nearly twice as many as the previous year, and 813 of them involved child prostitution.

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