Japanese Defense Ministry flip flops on allegations of hack by foreign state

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The Japanese Defense Ministry earlier today denied reports that it suffered a sophisticated cyberattack in September, Bloomberg reported.

Prior to the Bloomberg report, the Japan Times had cited ministry sources claiming the Japanese Defense Ministry had just discovered a massive cyberattack from September. By breaching the communication network between the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces, hackers had allegedly gained instant access to the computer infrastructure connecting Self-Defense Forces bases and camps. Some data may have also been leaked due to the security loophole.

The news agency quoted a senior SDF official as saying “it is a very serious situation. We must quickly take measures to prevent a recurrence.” The attack was believed to have been carried out by experienced hackers, “with an organized attacker such as a nation state strongly suspected,” wrote The Japan Times.

“The attack occurred through unauthorized online access to National Defense Academy and the National Defense Medical College computers, which were used as “bridges” to penetrate the internal network of Japanese bases,” APP source reports.

The contradictory reports, generated by reputable sources, surround the issue in a cloud of suspicion.

“Defense ministries worldwide are adopting ‘active defense’, in which they constantly attack their own systems, to find and fix weaknesses before malicious actors can. Maybe Japan needs to adopt this same approach,” said Jack Midgley, a consultant with Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting in Tokyo.

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