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2009年8月13日 (木)

サイバー攻撃 ネット社会に深刻な脅威だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 13, 2009)
Cyber attacks a threat to modern society
サイバー攻撃 ネット社会に深刻な脅威だ(8月13日付・読売社説)

Cyber attacks are a grave threat to the globe-spanning computer networks that underpin modern society and it is imperative that checks be made to ensure adequate countermeasures are in place to deal with potential problems in this country.

In early July, a spate of cyber attacks hit the Web sites of government organizations, banks and stock exchanges in the United States and South Korea.

Internet bots, which can remotely control the computers of unsuspecting users, were used to launch the attacks. Using such hijacked computers, the hackers simultaneously sent enormous volumes of data to particular Web sites, forcing them to shut down.

The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in South Korea were compounded by the destruction of data, which meant it took many of the affected organizations a considerable time to restore their Web sites.


North Korean involvement?

According to global information security experts, the attacks were launched from about 170,000 bot-infected computers in 74 countries. Though it is highly suspected that North Korea or pro-North Korean groups had a hand in the cyber offensives, it is difficult to conclusively identify the attackers.

However, if North Korea was involved in the attacks in some form, it is likely that Japan will be targeted at some point in the future. We hope careful analyses of the U.S. and South Korean cases will help bolster domestic countermeasures against such attacks.

As exemplified by these recent events, government Web sites are the prime targets for cyber assaults.

While government Web sites are becoming increasingly convenient for the public--such as by allowing people to file income tax returns online, among other tasks--the fact that anyone can access these networks leaves such computer systems vulnerable to cyber attacks.

At the end of July, the Education, Science and Technology Ministry's Web site was tampered with by an unidentified person or group. As a result, it was possible to access with a single click a Web site written in Chinese. Although no real damage was confirmed, this was typical of the kind of malicious behavior that drives hackers to send out computer-infecting bots.

We hope the government, led primarily by the Cabinet Secretariat's National Information Security Center, will closely monitor the situation and take the requisite steps to ensure security is given high priority.


Vigilance required

In terms of countermeasures, individuals, too, also have an important role to play. It has been confirmed that many Japan-based computers were unknowingly involved in the recent digital bombardment of U.S. and South Korean Web sites. According to a government estimate, there are about 300,000 bot-infected computers in Japan.

The most important single step that users can take to protect their computers is to install antivirus software and make sure that it always runs the latest version. Running an up-to-date operating system, such as Windows, also is an effective countermeasure. The Web site of the government-operated Cyber Clean Center offers users a free check to learn whether their computers are infected with bots.

Let us hope we can all avoid becoming unwitting accomplices in bot-based cyber attacks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 13, 2009)
(2009年8月13日01時09分  読売新聞)


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