Following a trilateral defense meeting Saturday of the U.S., Australia, and Japan, the Japan Pension Service (JPS) was hacked. The personal information of over 1.2 million Japanese people was apparently stolen from the pension management system. Ninety percent of the information that was stolen was names, birthdates, and the Japanese equivalent of Social Security numbers. No source of the attack has been released. Cyber attacks are on the rise for both the U.S. and Japan. As technology advances and becomes more integrated and the amount of information online increases, it is important for countries to work together to fight cyber crimes.
Just a few days earlier, the U.S.–Japan Cyber Defense Policy Working Group issued a statement highlighting the cooperative efforts of U.S. and Japanese cyber forces to defend both countries’ bases in Japan and Japan’s critical infrastructure, such as its power and telecommunications. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter reaffirmed the importance of the recently revised U.S.–Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines with Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani and highlighted the importance of increased cyber cooperation between the two allies.
While the U.S. and Japan amount to the two largest pension systems in the world, Japan is home to the single largest pension fund: the Government Pension Investment Fund. Of course, the U.S. has recently had its own issues with customers’ personal information being stolen from private companies. In the past several years, both countries have seen more cyber threats come to light, forcing U.S. and Japanese officials to address the issue of cybersecurity head on. U.S. legislation regarding cyber issues is reoccurring, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to increase cybersecurity in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Precautions implemented as a result of the attacks on U.S. information systems and the sequential sharing of information between the U.S. and Japan will hopefully allow both countries to deter any future attacks. That’s not to say that cyber attacks won’t continue to be a nuisance in the future. In this recent theft of information from the JPS, it is reported that an employee opened a virus-infected file—highlighting the need for companies to implement sound personal cyber hygiene. As Secretary of State Kerry stated on his recent trip to South Korea, “[E]very country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyber attack.”