When it comes to cyber-attacks, the notion of national borders does not exist. While attacks pose an ever present threat, there are ways to minimize and contain the problem.
Cyber-attack programs are readily available. Once the target is identified, all the hacker has to do is load the software and click the "shoot" button.
Hackers targeted the websites of the Supreme Court, the Finance Ministry and other government organs in June, rendering them inaccessible or compromised.
The day before the attack, the international Net activist group "Anonymous" dropped hints that it would attack Japan. In the name of "freedom of the Internet," the group has repeatedly mounted cyber-attacks against governments and corporations around the world that it deems "hostile."
With Japan, "Anonymous" was outraged by the enactment of the revised Copyright Law in June that criminalizes the downloading of pirated music and video files. The group named the Japanese government and the Recording Industry Association of Japan as its targets.
"Anonymous" has no identifiable leader. It is a loose, elusive Net-based organization. For the Japan attacks, it appears that instructions were relayed via Twitter and chat sites, and then acted upon by group members.
When members appear in public, they wear identical masks. On July 7, masked members, mostly Japanese, picked up trash on Tokyo streets in a symbolic protest against the revised Copyright Law. The group knows to combine hardball action and "soft" action.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has decried the criminalization of illegal downloading of copyrighted files as "rash," especially as the decision was made after less than one week of deliberations.
But hackers don't always listen to reasoned debate, and simply go on the offensive. We are not just talking about "Anonymous" here. Any individual or organization can become a target.
It is difficult to fully protect a site against cyber-attacks. It requires continuous effort, and is sort of like playing cat and mouse. Still, beefing up security and doing frequent checks can improve safety.
For instance, the government follows a universal standard for the application of security measures and technology. Many private companies also have their own security guidelines.
Are these measures and guidelines being followed properly?
Hackers who rewrite websites work on known software flaws.
This means that security software should be updated religiously. This sort of basic, day-to-day vigilance does help.
--The Asahi Shimbun, July 8
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