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2009年1月10日 (土)

ITの安全 「事故前提」の備えが大切だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 8, 2009)

To secure IT systems, prepare for accidents

ITの安全 「事故前提」の備えが大切だ(18日付・読売社説)

A society that runs on information technology cannot expect to run without a hitch as long as humans are involved.


The government's Information Security Policy Council has decided to beef up steps to ensure the safe utilization of information technology by assuming that accidents affecting providers and users are bound to occur.


The measures are included in the council's second basic plan for information security, which sets out policies to be tackled by the government, related enterprises and other parties concerned for three years beginning in fiscal 2009.


Even if safety measures are taken, problems can occur. The basic plan, therefore, calls for instituting mechanisms in various fields to minimize damage by grasping the causes and effects of a problem as well as to restore the trouble-hit IT system to normalcy.


This is in stark contrast to the first basic plan covering the three years through fiscal 2008, which set a goal of eliminating accidents involving IT usage. "IT system glitches should be eliminated" and "The number of individuals who are anxious about using IT should be reduced as much as possible" were two of the goals enshrined in the basic plan.


But the reality speaks for itself.


There have been a large number of system failures in key societal infrastructure, such as a securities trading computer system, ATMs at financial institutions and automated fare collection systems, causing far-reaching confusion that affected the public.


We also hear of one incident after another in which personal credit card information was stolen through the Internet, and of key information being leaked through computers. Cyber-attacks on government and corporate computers, meanwhile, are not about to disappear.



Damage limitation vital

Precautionary steps alone will not lessen damage from IT problems. To build a robust society in which IT is a blessing, consistent responses are necessary to deal with the situation right after an accident occurs.


To prod the government and companies to work toward formulating such emergency responses, the second basic plan calls on service providers in each of 10 essential infrastructure fields to define the maximum damage they aim to allow to result from an IT-related problem so the problem does not spin out of control. The essential infrastructure fields include public administration, information and telecommunications, and financial and medical services.


At the same time, the basic plan urges each industry group related to the 10 fields to make efforts to improve information security. The basic plan cites as an example the safety target set by gas suppliers that aims to prevent the disruption of gas supply to more than 30 households in the event of an IT glitch.



New plan realistic

Although the latest basic plan may appear to have lowered safety standards, it takes a far more realistic approach that will facilitate effective responses.


Measures seeking "perfect" information security can serve as roadblocks to IT utilization. In particular, it has been pointed out that moves taken by the government and related institutions in this regard are problematic in many ways.


For example, the Education, Science and Technology Ministry has provided electronic services for the filing of 696 types of documents, including one for requesting permission to physically alter a registered historic site. But 60 percent of the 696 document-filing services have not been used because, many say, the procedure for obtaining online certification to ensure information security is cumbersome.


Furthermore, it is indispensable to develop safer and more convenient technology and to encourage individual users to deepen their knowledge about IT. We believe such endeavors should be supported and other necessary steps spelled out in the second basic plan.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 8, 2009)

2009180132  読売新聞)


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