At least 100 municipalities across Japan have suffered cyberattacks, many originating overseas, underscoring the threat local officials face as they prepare for the My Number national data management system.
In some cases, residents’ email addresses were copied, websites were altered or computer servers broke down after a massive number of emails were sent to them. There were also cases in which servers were used to send emails after being commandeered.
Local governments face a daunting task of enhancing their protection against online attacks amid a dearth of manpower and financial resources as the January switch to the My Number system approaches.
An identification number will be assigned to every resident in hopes of simplifying administrative procedures for taxation and social security.
Strong concerns remain among the public over how secure the information will be.
Kyodo News contacted local governments in August and September through questionnaires and other means and found that the local governments hit by cyberattacks, including associations consisting of multiple municipalities, were spread over 44 prefectures.
Attacks were leveled at the servers for 100 municipalities that operated websites. The assaults originated mostly overseas, including China, Russia, North America, Afghanistan, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands.
Only seven of the local governments were able to block the hacking, the tally showed.
Such cyberattacks started gaining frequency around 2000, and municipalities are increasingly being targeted for information leaks.
Nineteen percent of the municipalities said their systems for managing personal information are connected to the Internet.
While the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has urged local governments to separate such systems from the Internet, they often lack staff with enough expertise and a shortage of funds.