• Kyodo

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Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka said Thursday that the online national resident registry system is vulnerable to attacks. His accusation came after revelations that a computer security expert had hacked into the system in a prefecture-backed experiment.

Tanaka told the prefectural assembly that, in light of the results, “It is necessary for us to map out measures to fully protect personal information.”

The governor said the prefecture will evaluate the results of the experiment with third-party experts before releasing details.

The experiment was carried out in three municipalities with the tacit approval of the central government.

The experiment initially faced fierce opposition from the public management ministry, which threatened to take legal action against Nagano Prefecture for any illegal entry into the system, even as part of an experiment.

But it was given the green light in late August.

Nagano contracted a security firm from outside the prefecture — which in turn hired a prominent U.S. computer security expert — to perform the test from Sept. 22 through Wednesday.

Nagano has yet to join the registry system.

The registry, known in Japanese by its abbreviated name, Juki Net, was launched in August 2002.

The system links local authorities across Japan with a central database that contains an 11-digit code for every individual, along with the individual’s name, date of birth, gender and address.

The Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, the government agency in charge of the central registry, has said that personal information detailed in the registry is fully protected through fire wall and other computer security measures.

Most local authorities that have joined the online registry use local area networks to access the Internet.

The simulated attack apparently penetrated the LAN networks of the three municipalities — and through them the central Juki Net registry — with the use of outside Internet access.

As an estimated 800 municipalities across Japan use LAN systems to access the Internet as a cost-cutting measure, their computer systems could be vulnerable to hacker attacks.

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