SPECIAL FEATURE

Regarding Response to Cyber Attacks

Launching the Cyber Defense Unit (provisional name) Preparatory Office
Launching the Cyber Defense Unit (provisional name) Preparatory Office

Q1 What does cyber attack mean? Can you describe the features and current situation of cyber attacks?

A1.Although there is no established definition of the term “cyber attack”, it generally refers to an attack that takes place over a communications network or using an information system, such as unauthorized access, data theft or destruction, execution of unauthorized program and DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service attack). As cyberspace is expanding, cyber attacks may cause serious damages across a wide swath of social activities. Furthermore, it remains difficult to identify the source of a cyber attack or prevent one from happening. As a result, response to cyber attacks has become a significant issue in national security and crisis management.

Q2 What kinds of measures are taken by Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Force to deal with cyber attacks?

A2.Ensuring stability in cyberspace is essential for the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to execute its duties and missions.

Cabinet Secretariat heads the uniform and cross-sectoral information security measures being taken by the government, while the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and SDF work on the protection of their own systems and networks.

In September 2012, the MOD formulated a report called “Toward Stable and Effective Use of Cyberspace (Cyber Policy)” as a set of guidelines for ensuring consistency and uniformity in the implementation of measures. In this regard, the MOD is promoting necessary efforts to ensure the stability of cyberspace.

Q3 Tell us about specific measures being implemented to counteract cyber attacks.

A3.The SDF handles cyber attacks by operating the necessary functions in an integrated manner to protect its own information systems, while also contributes to the government’s overall response by accumulating advanced knowledge and skills on cyber attacks.

In addressing potential cyber attacks, the Command Control Communication Computers Systems Command (C4SC), which is charged with operating and maintaining the SDF’s Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) and Central Command System (CCS), monitors SDF communications networks around the clock.

C4SC has not only set up an intrusion prevention system to enhance the security of information communication systems and protection systems including cyber defense analysis equipment, but also created rules that define guidelines and approaches to counter cyber attack response and conducted research on the latest technologies in a bid to meet necessary comprehensive measures including personnel and technological infrastructure enhancement.

Q4 What kind of collaboration is taking place with relevant agencies and foreign countries?

A4.Since it is difficult for the MOD and SDF alone to achieve stable use of cyberspace, they work closely with relevant agencies such as the National Information Security Center (NISC). Participating in “Japan–US IT Forum” and “Japan–U.S. Cyber Dialog” launched under an agreement between the leaders of Japan and the U.S., the MOD and SDF exchange information on cyberspace issues and information security. Japan–U.S. joint training exercises are held to deal with possible cyber attacks. These efforts help the MOD and SDF promote cooperation and collaboration with the U.S. and the international community.

Q5 Please tell us about the future activities of the MOD and SDF in terms of counteracting cyber attacks.

A5.Based on the Cyber Policy mentioned earlier, the fiscal 2013 budget for the MOD and SDF calls for the establishment of the Cyber Defense Unit (provisional name) in order to more apply combat threats of cyber attacks, which are growing more complex and sophisticated with each passing day. A budget has also been appropriated for enhancing and strengthening operational infrastructure, including network monitoring projects and research on technologies to create cyber attack practice environments. In February 2013, the Cyber Policy Review Committee, chaired by the Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Defense, was established in order to examine cooperation with foreign countries and related organizations, development of manpower to secure human resources with counter-cyber attack knowledge, and cooperation with defense industries.

In order to smoothly establish the Cyber Defense Unit (provisional name), the Cyber Defense Unit Preparatory Office was set up in the Joint Staff Office on May 16, 2013.

Since the handling of cyber attacks are urgent and pressing issue, continual and proactive efforts will be made to strengthen the SDF’s ability to counteract cyber attacks.

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