Japan Begins Hacking IoT Devices Ahead of 2020 Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics will take place in Tokyo, Japan, where athletes from all over the world will compete for gold medals and personal recognition. Hosting the Olympics requires a lengthy period of preparation to ensure the safety and capability of competitors and spectators. The event requires spending billions on designing and building infrastructure. And as hackers now impact our digital world daily, the prioritization and investment in security – both physical and cyber.

IoT Devices are Vulnerable

A recent report shows that that two thirds of all 2016 cyber-attacks were aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) devices. With a growing number of digital threats, Japan worries that adversaries will hack devices connected to the IoT to disrupt Olympic infrastructure.

The games use a multitude of IoT dependent devices ranging from basic electric work to superior computer software. Even a small disruption in any one of these technological systems can cause transmission delay or completely undermine event logistics.

We do not need to look far to confirm this. In retaliation to banning some of their best athletes, Russia targeted the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics computer networks by deploying the Olympic Destroyer malware. This resulted in technical malfunctions during the opening ceremony. Though the issues were completely resolved in 12 hours, the point of the matter is that hackers were successful in penetrating the weak security systems. This occurrence validates worries and Japan officials are studying after actions reports to learn as much a s possible.

Hacking and Pen Testing

As a result of IoT concerns, the Japanese government has approved a law amendment that will allow federal authorities to hack into their citizen’s IoT devices. Starting next month, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) will test the security of 200 million devices. Officials will use default passwords to assess device vulnerability.

Truth is, if a government official can crack your passcode, the likelihood of a seasoned hacker doing the same is all that much higher. Many individuals fail to understand the importance of using complex passwords to safeguard their digital assets. Even worse, people tend to use the default passwords factory set for the device. This simplifies the hacker’s work. A computer program could scan the internet and identify these devices for the hacker to access at will.  

The new law has outraged many Japanese citizens who question the government’s authority to infringe on their privacy. Some suggestions have been put forward to preserve the civil rights Japanese citizens now observe. One thought was to send a mass notification to all smart devices, prompting the users to change their passwords. However, there would still belittle guarantee that default passwords were changed.

If Japan is unable to identify their own cyber vulnerabilities, nefarious hackers undoubtedly will. A cyber-attack during a global event, such as the Olympics, can and will potentially endanger lives. Japan’s prudent planning takes potentially fatal outcomes into account. The government aptly identifies the dangers of disruption to our new digital world. A catastrophic cyber event could be as impacting on the economy and their reputation as the physical events we have been preparing for over many years of large global events.   

Cybersecurity is a Responsibility

Hosting the Olympics is a prestigious matter, but it also creates a haven for any and all types of crimes. By taking preventative cybersecurity measures as described above, the Japanese could be preserving its very own democracy. Freedom comes with a cost.  This means the government’s determination they pay with challenge from their citizens now, will net them a prosperous and successful Olympics later. Thus, authorities are showing cyber leadership which is missing in many parts of the world. There will be enough competition from Japan’s athletic guests. The country does not need the challenge from hackers at the same time.  

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