Universities the weak link when hackers strike Japan

Overseas hackers are thought to have made off with information on Japan's maritime strategy in a March attack on specific people at national universities, which a Nikkei survey has found to be growing targets for their relatively lax security and sensitive knowledge, write Masaharu Ban and Tadao Gen for the Nikkei Asian Review.

An attacker posing as a Cabinet Office staffer attached to a government council on ocean policy emailed malware-laced files to professors at targets including the prestigious University of Tokyo and the Kyushu Institute of Technology. At least one apparently took the bait and opened a file, making possible the theft of information. The council was formulating Japan’s basic plan on ocean policy, which guides the nation's defence of outlying islands and development of maritime resources.

Overseas groups appear to be increasingly attacking specific targets at Japanese national universities, which work closely with businesses and government but tend to have weaker security, the Nikkei survey suggests. The universities are counted on to improve the country’s overall research capabilities. They also receive more in subsidies than private universities and fall under freedom-of-information legislation.
Full report on the Nikkei Asian Review site