Japan to upgrade cyber defense, allowing preemptive measures

Japan is set to establish a legal framework that will allow for enhanced measures to defend itself in cyberspace, Nikkei has learned.


The government aims to make legislative changes so it can begin monitoring potential attackers and hack their systems as soon as signs of a potential risk are established.


Current laws make it extremely hard for such measures to be triggered unless after an emergency, which would require Japan defense forces being deployed after a military attack.


The plan is highlighted in an overview of proposed National Security Strategy revisions, which were submitted to the ruling coalition on Saturday. The revisions are poised to be approved by the cabinet before the end of the month.


Other countries have similar laws allowing governments to launch cyberattacks to destroy foreign systems when suspicious activities are detected.


As the frequency and scale of cyberattacks increase across the globe, the government says it sees an urgent need to align laws with the times.


The move is expected to be a turning point for Japan’s cyber defense, which is limited due to the interpretation of the country’s constitution and laws relating to the use of force, as well as privacy concerns.


The changes will allow the government to defend private-sector infrastructures, such as power grids and financial networks.


It also has potential to open the door for Japan to retaliate in cyberspace and neutralize attackers.


After the cabinet approves the documents, the ruling coalition in January will debate the matter to amend existing laws and create new ones. The documents state Japan will strengthen cyber defense “to a level equal to major Western powers.”


Provisions include introducing an “active cyber defense,” which gives the green light to stop harmful software before it causes serious damage. In these cases, authorities would foresee a situation where national security is threatened — such as damage to vital infrastructure — even though there is no use of force.


According to the plan, Japan’s cabinet cybersecurity center will be reorganized to take charge of national cyber defense.


The plan also aims to strengthen government support to defend infrastructure that is currently entrusted to private companies. However, sources say, the extent to which the government can intervene needs to be considered carefully as not to violate international laws.


Other changes in the strategy include increasing the defense budget and acquiring counterattack capability to strike enemy missile launch sites, among others.


Source: Azerbaijan State News Agency