[ISN] Rattled by computer security threats, Japan beefs up.

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Feb 06 1999 - 02:00:14 PST

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    Forwarded From: William Knowles <erehwonat_private>
    Rattled by computer security threats, Japan beefs up.
    TOKYO (AP) [2.6.99] At a secret location somewhere in Tokyo, dozens of
    specialists in cryptography and electronic media will soon be hard at work
    patrolling cyberspace. 
    Due to open by July, the new headquarters for the National Police Agency's
    ``cyber-cop'' squad signals growing concern about computer security as
    more and more Japanese join the global online revolution. 
    And while unauthorized computer snooping in Japan is less common than in
    the United States, a sharp jump in computer-related crimes in recent years
    has rattled authorities. 
    The increase is no surprise - legally, Japan is a hacker's heaven. 
    Breaking into a computer system isn't even a crime in Japan, which sets it
    apart from most other major industrialized nations. Hackers are free to
    peep at sensitive data stored in Japanese mainframes so long as they don't
    destroy or sell any of it. 
    ``We have fallen behind other countries in this area,'' said Kei Hata, a
    member of Parliament who serves as deputy head of the ruling party's
    Internet policy committee. ``It's a problem which must be addressed
    Worry about the potential for computer-generated chaos has prompted Tokyo
    to draft legislation to outlaw unauthorized access. A bill is expected to
    be submitted in the current session of Parliament, which ends in June. 
    The move comes amid pressure from Washington to bolster international
    efforts to fight crime in cyberspace and dismay in Japan over abuses such
    as the widespread transmission of child pornography and even poison sales
    via suicide-related Websites. 
    The problem is still relatively new to Japan. 
    In 1997, the number of high-tech crimes known to Japanese police climbed
    to 263, up from 178 the previous year and just 32 in 1993. 
    Still, a recent NPA survey showed that only 4 percent of companies and
    colleges polled reported cases of unauthorized access serious enough to
    inflict damage on their computer systems. 
    By comparison, the San Francisco-based Computer Security Institute and the
    FBI found that 64 percent of 520 U.S. corporations, government agencies,
    financial institutions and universities responding to a 1998 survey had at
    least one computer security violation within the previous 12 months. More
    than 70 percent suffered financial losses. 
    Japanese police suspect the true number of computer crimes is much higher
    than the official figure, and note that many businesses keep security
    problems under wraps to avoid negative publicity. 
    Companies are particularly reluctant to disclose entanglements with
    organized crime syndicates, known as the yakuza. 
    ``The yakuza have moved into this field,'' said Shunichi Kawabe, an
    official in the NPA's information technology bureau. ``They are very
    interested in making money in this type of business.''
    He said Internet-brokered gun trafficking, Web page-based pornography
    distribution and computer-generated financial fraud are among the areas
    suspected of being targeted. 
    Thrill-seekers are also stirring up trouble. 
    One hacker broke into a computer network used by the Hokkaido University
    of Education in northern Japan and gained access to login IDs and
    passwords used by about 1,000 employees and students. The university
    uncovered the security breach last month and shut down the entire network. 
    Japan plans to step up computer training programs for police, but
    authorities acknowledge they have a long way to go before catching up with
    their counterparts in the United States. 
    The good news for the cops is that Japanese hackers also lag behind their
    cohorts overseas. 
    ``Domestic cyber-criminals are still low-tech,'' said Kawabe. 
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