Japanese Defence Ministry Hack Shows No Network Is Safe

December 2016

Although Japanese government officials have since denied the reports, it seems that a secure network used by the country’s defence forces was breached earlier this year. The Defence Ministry and Self-Defence Forces were targeted by a sophisticated, high-level cyber attack in September that may have compromised the entire Defence Information Infrastructure and Japan’s internal military network, sources at Kyodo News have said.

Japanese defence ministry hackThe Defense Information Infrastructure is a high-speed, high-capacity communication network which connects Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF) bases and camps. The cyber attacker, (possibly another country), penetrated the GSDF’s computer system and stole information, although the full scope of the theft remains unclear.

The sources said that the hacker or hackers appear to have initially gained unauthorised access to computers at the National Defense Academy and the National Defense Medical College, using them as a gateway to enter the GSDF’s computer system.

The Defense Information Infrastructure consists of two networks, one open and connected to the Internet and another closed network for information-sharing by insiders. The open network is connected to the Internet via a firewall, according to the Ministry’s website.

While the two systems operate separately as a safeguard against computer viruses, they are not completely detached. It seems that the hackers used a link between the two to carry out the attack, prompting the Ministry to raise its cyber security alert level.

Shock waves

The incident has sent shock waves through the Japanese Defence Ministry, which had recently beefed up its security measures precisely to prevent such attacks. Moreover, the cyber attack in Japan is just the latest of several incidents that have breached various defense IT systems around the world. Cyberspace has widely been termed the ‘fifth battlefield’ after ground, sea, air and space.

Whether or not the cyber attack took place will perhaps never be known. However, the scenario has truly alarming implications for all information networks used by government organisation’s and military forces around the world.

There are clearly benefits that can be obtained through the connection of previously isolated networks. However any connections put in place must be done so with security in mind to ensure they are appropriately controlled and the allowed data exchanges are appropriate.

Overcoming security issues to connect networks

At Nexor, we can help join up the networks and information systems that clients need quick, secure access to – even if they operate at different trust levels.

Our accredited secure information exchange and cross-domain solutions connect information and people, from the Internet up to the highest levels of classification. At the same time, we rigidly adhere to the principles of information assurance – confidentiality, integrity, authentication, availability and non-repudiation.

We work with clients to understand their exact information exchange requirements, operational needs and security constraints. Our expertise helps balance usability, performance, timescales and budget, against threat exposure, risk appetite and assurance process.

In short, we work in partnership to design, deliver and support trusted information exchange solutions which enable more efficient, yet secure, collaboration within an organisation and with its partners.

Author Bio - Tony Roadknight

Tony RoadknightTony Roadknight is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and is Lead Technologist at Nexor delivering cyber security solutions to governments, defence and critical national infrastructure organisations.

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