Network-assessment

Japan is all set to beef up cybersecurity as the country gears up to host some notable global events.

As Japan gets ready to host events like the Rugby World Cup, the Group of 20 meetings and the Summer Olympic Games, Tokyo decides to survey 200 million network-connected gadgets for cybersecurity lapses. The survey starts this month and would be conducted by the government-backed National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. The survey would seek to check for vulnerabilities in routers, webcams, web-connected home appliances etc.

A report from news agency AFP reads, “Japan is preparing a national sweep of some 200 million network-connected gadgets for cyber-security lapses ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, an official said on Tuesday…The government-backed National Institute of Information and Communications Technology will start the survey from February to check potential vulnerabilities in items such as routers, webcams, and web-connected home appliances.”

The AFP report further states, “Cybersecurity has become increasingly important as sporting events introduce new technologies for everything from broadcasting to ticketing.”

The report says that researchers would examine, for the study, some common but unsafe IDs and passwords that are often targeted by malware. Tsutomu Yoshida, spokesman for the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has clarified that examining such IDs/passwords (like “abcd”, “1234”, “admin” etc) would help check if devices are readily accessible by hackers. He also said that gadgets would be examined in the survey with the consent of internet service providers and researchers would mostly seek to examine those products that access the internet using cables.

Tsutomu Yoshida has also clarified that expensive and complex operations that are necessary to check individual mobile gadgets (like smartphones) won’t be conducted. The survey would instead focus on examining devices like routers are cafes- routers that provide free connectivity for users of mobile devices.

The AFP report quotes the Institute spokesman as saying, “Too often, we see webcams, for example, that are already being hacked because security settings are too simple and their images are being seen by outsiders. Sometimes they are put on public websites without the owners being aware… We will see, of roughly 200 million products to be surveyed, how many are being exposed.”

Such a survey becomes relevant as events like the Olympics, the World Cup Football etc are facing growing threats from cyberattacks. The Winter Olympics held last year at PyeongChang was hit by a cyberattack, as a result of which the internal internet and Wi-Fi systems were impacted during the opening ceremony. It’s such incidents that have made Tokyo decide to take this step to prevent cyber attacks.

It has been made clear, by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology spokesman, that there won’t be any attempt to break into individual gadgets to view personal data. The Institute would, without doing this, notify ISPs about vulnerable users.

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