The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are coming, and they are typically a highly visible hacker target. This spectacle of sport is a perfect national rallying point to get Japan enthusiastic about cybersecurity.
The cost and inconvenience of implementing IT security measures can outweigh the perceived benefits, but eventually, the scales will tip. The risk of cybercrime has always been there, but it’s the perception of that risk that seems to motivate individuals, companies and even nations to accept reality. In the case of Japan, the upcoming Olympic Games are pushing the nation to shift gear. That and an item in the international press showing the Japanese government official responsible for cybersecurity as computer illiterate. But, as some have pointed out, two-year turnover for officials means leaders have little clout anyway.
Japan’s New Cyber Security Strategy is Gaining Momentum
An article posted by Japanese multinational NEC takes an objective look at reasons, including specific cultural ones, why Japan might be slow to embrace cybersecurity. Rising in importance, though, are the reasons why Japan cannot wait to get up to speed and even take leadership in this important area. As with other countries with leadership in the world’s technological fields, falling down in this area could cause a rapid loss of prestige. Japan has seen this and is playing “catch-up” to remain competitive.
The Olympic Games have traditionally pushed the host nation to develop its infrastructure in one way or another. China, for instance, made a national effort to learn English to welcome the flood of visitors inspired by the Olympics. In Japan’s case, showing the nation’s technological strength will require that Olympic timing, ticketing, scoring and scheduling systems are protected against malicious and recreational hackers, at a minimum.
Ultimately, e-crime is socially disruptive, and Japanese culture would seem to rather ignore it. From government officials nervous about making waves by making companies disclose attacks, to the strong tendency of loyal employees to assume it’s their responsibility to keep things quiet, e-crime has a perfect breeding ground in Japan.
What’s Happening with Japan’s IT Security Approach
As the NEC article notes, Japan is stepping up its IT security game with a two-pronged approach: laws and leaders. The government is preparing legal frameworks for law enforcement and corporations to work together to identify and fight this new type of crime. Heads of corporations will receive more training in corporate-level cybersecurity policies, and a new type of worker is being trained to address IT security issues on a professional level. Young people are being invited to competitions to help boost cybercrime awareness and network security skills. For emerging battlegrounds such as the device-based “internet of things” (IoT), policy and strategy are being developed preemptively.
Cybercrime thrives in the shadows, and Japanese society, unfortunately, creates those shadows by not acknowledging this new type of hidden antisocial behavior. When a single criminal can plant his or her message on the prime minister’s website for the world to see, or a single unaware employee can leak over a million pension system records, Japanese society needs to close the door on cybercriminals.