New Cyberattack Defense System


Japanese Defense Agency May Develop ’Cyberweapons’
by Yomiuri Shimbun

Source: The Daily Yomiuri

The Defense Agency has started to study the possibility of developing experimental computer viruses and computer hacking technology to build a computer system to cope with so-called cyberattacks by computer viruses and hackers, sources close to the agency have revealed.

The project may be included in the five-year defense buildup program, starting in fiscal 2001, the sources said.

Though the new technology and virus will be developed to test the new cyberattack defense system, possessing the virus and hacking technology would mean having "cyberweapons" that are able to attack other countries’ computer systems, the sources said.

Therefore, the agency has started to research whether having and using viruses and hacking technology violate the Constitution, which in practice restricts the possession of strategic weapons.

As the military use of computer systems increases worldwide, the agency’s actions are certain to draw international attention, as there is no worldwide consensus on whether attacks by computer systems in a borderless cyberspace can be regarded as the use of force.

It is feared that a cyberattack on the heart of a computerized defense system could cause more damage than an attack by conventional weapons because a computer attack may paralyze the conveying of instructions down the chain of command, and commanders may make erroneous judgments based on false information.

Thus, the agency will include the establishment of a "cyberforce" for the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense forces in the next defense buildup program to develop a defense system against cyberattacks.

The GSDF and the agency’s Technical Research and Development Institute, which have started preliminary studies, have concluded that computer viruses and hacking technology will be necessary to carry out virus prevention experiments and to detect and remove abnormalities in the course of developing a cyberattack defense system.

Thus the agency will start studies on the development of cyberweapons, at least for test purposes, the sources said.

Cyberweapons have the capability of attacking computer systems at home and abroad through telecommunications networks. Constitutional restrictions dictating a purely defensive posture have been interpreted as forbidding Japan from possessing strategic weapons, such as long-range missiles and aircraft carriers. The introduction of midair refueling aircraft was shelved because it was feared that neighboring countries would view the aircraft as a threat. To this end, debate has taken place within the agency as to whether possession of cyberweapons violates the Constitution.

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