[ISN] Japan may drop Windows to boost security

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Nov 18 2002 - 05:27:37 PST

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    Saturday, November 16, 2002 
    The Japanese government is contemplating to replace Microsoft Windows,
    used in much of its computer networks, with another operating system
    to bolster security. According to the local newspaper Asahi Shimbun,
    the planned move came in the wake of recent event of leakage of secure
    data from Japan's military network. Instead the government is looking
    the possibility of adopting open source programs like Linux.
    TOKYO -- The Japanese government will consider replacing Microsoft
    Corp's Windows, used in much of its computer networks, with another
    operating system to bolster security, a newspaper said on Saturday.
    The safety of computer networks is under scrutiny as Prime Minister
    Junichiro Koizumi's administration presses on towards a long-held goal
    of "e-government", which would allow citizens to deal with government
    agencies via the Internet.
    Windows now serves at the operating system for the bulk of servers and
    personal computers that are used for the Japanese government's
    computer networks, the Asahi Shimbun said.
    But the government is interested in studying the possibility of
    adopting alternative operating systems, particularly open source
    programs such as Linux, the newspaper said.
    The advantage of open source programs is that unlike Microsoft's
    software products, they do not require licensing fees and can be
    modified because their source codes are made available for free. This
    makes it easier for system operators to cope with any problems that
    could arise, the paper said.
    The source, or blueprint, of a programs determines how it works.
    The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and
    Telecommunications will set up a panel of experts to study how other
    countries are using open source operating systems as early as the next
    fiscal year that starts next April, the paper said.
    Public Management ministry officials were not immediately available
    for comment.
    The review will take place after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's
    panel on promoting electronic government asked the government in
    August to develop or introduce an open-source programme for security
    reasons, the newspaper said.
    Concerns about computer security were stoked in August, when a leak of
    computer data for a computer network used by Japan's military came to
    The news of the data leak had come just a day after the introduction
    of a mandatory ID system that keeps track of personal data
    electronically, identifying every Japanese citizen with an 11-digit
    A number of municipalities have refused to implement the system,
    fearing misuse by hackers.
    Linux, essentially a free version of the proprietary Unix operating
    system, has been making strong inroads into the market for servers,
    the machines that manage networks of computers.
    This prompted Microsoft, which dominates the personal computer
    software market with its Windows operating system but is a relatively
    new entrant in the server market, to make an exhaustive study of the
    threats posed by open source.
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