The Chinese military gained access to the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s top-secret networks years ago, and the country has long failed to respond adequately. The Washington Post reports, citing anonymous US government and Japanese sources. The alarming discovery was made by the US foreign intelligence service NSA in autumn 2020. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army hackers had a deep and persistent access through which they sought to steal anything they could get their hands on. They were concerned with plans, capabilities and assessments of military inadequacies. “It was bad, shockingly bad,” says a source.
For months without real resistance
The find was so disturbing that the NSA boss personally flew to Japan to inform the defense minister there. He, in turn, immediately informed the Prime Minister. It was one of the most damaging hacks in the modern history of the East Asian country. Japan’s government was taken aback, but gave the impression that the matter should be looked into. Apparently that didn’t happen extensively enough, because a year later the US realized that Japan wasn’t making enough progress in repelling the attack. A US delegation – sent by the new President Joe Biden – flew to Japan again.
The US government did not want to reveal to Japan how exactly it found out about the break-in, and in Tokyo there were fears that the NSA itself also had access to its own networks, writes the Washington Post. Therefore there was a certain degree of distrust that was overcome only late. Both countries had agreed that Japan would investigate the vulnerabilities of the systems using its own cybersecurity industry and the NSA would examine the results and make suggestions. In addition, Japan has announced that it will increase the budget for cybersecurity tenfold and increase the relevant part of the military to 4,000 people. The US newspaper does not write whether and when China’s hackers were thrown off the net.
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