The Great Hack

“China hacks Japan’s defense networks”-this headline in the Washington Post definitely caught my attention earlier this month. This incident involved a special unit from China hacking into Japan’s classified defense networks. While it remains unknown exactly how long they were doing this, it was long enough. They were able to hack into Japanese shortcomings, like military contingency plans and capabilities – this breach was shockingly bad. Unfortunately, the Japanese have a history of massive intelligence hacks – they were even called a ‘spy heaven’ by the Soviets back during the Cold War. In the past, Japan didn’t have specific laws covering leaks of military data and espionage, but they are now implementing mechanisms to protect classified information and working to create a truly impermeable cyber defense network.

In this episode of Intel Insights, we focus on the great hack that happened to Japan, the increased aggressiveness from a rising China over the years, and Japan’s decision to create a stronger national cyber strategy with cyber command. We’ll also discuss some major factors that have contributed to Japan executing a new national security strategy, like increasing their defense budget to 2 percent of their GDP, building missiles that will allow them to counterattack if needed, developing a cyber defense network that can basically eliminate cyber attacks, and more. 

It’s very clear that Japan needs to recalibrate their national security strategy against China, and any other external threats.The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to use artificial intelligence to strengthen its ability to analyze intelligence and respond to disinformation campaigns. They want to equal, or even surpass, cyber defenses of leading Western countries. With the U.S. being an ally of Japan, all of these decisions have implications in terms of how we protect ourselves, but it’s up to us to create proper cyber defenses to meet these pervasive threats. Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of diplomatic, political, and military challenges when it comes to protecting our networks, our critical infrastructure, and ensuring our ability to project our forces, no matter where we are.

Interesting Fact: 

This most recent hack comes in against a backdrop of several other major hacks. Some of these were the SolarWinds hack in 2020 involving Russia’s intelligence organization (SVR), the compromise of the Microsoft Exchange servers, and the infrastructure attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which was laid at the feet of a Russian criminal gang in 2021.

Episode Timestamps:

  • A recent occurrence that involved a special unit from China hacking into Japan’s defense networks {0:44}
  • Other major hacks that have happened in recent years {2:48}
  • The creation of the unit 61419 (also known as TIC), which was put in place by the People’s Liberation Army {4:05}
  • Japan’s decision to establish policies regarding cyberattacks with help from the United States {5:06}
  • How Tokyo created a new national cyber strategy + cyber command {7:44}
  • The increased aggressiveness of China in recent years, especially in cyberspace {11:01}
  • Six major factors that have contributed to Japan implementing a new national security strategy {15:14}
  • Japan’s plan to create a new information warfare organization as part of their national security strategy {16:35}

“The Japanese idea of creating an active cyber defense is basically to eliminate the possibility of serious cyberattacks. As someone who’s worked in the cyber realm, I don’t think you can ever eliminate the possibility of cyberattacks, but you can at least mitigate the possibility of them and mitigate the damage that they might occur.”

Connect with Cedric: