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Japan to rate home devices on cyber-attack vulnerabilities

First Published      Last Updated May 08 2017 08:34 am

Tokyo • The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry plans to introduce a certification system for home appliances and other devices that can be connected to the internet that will show how resilient the devices are against cyber-attacks, it has been learned.

To make it easier for consumers to determine whether such products, collectively called the internet of things (IoT), are safe, the ministry will create a certification mark. The ministry plans to introduce the system in 2018.

With the internet becoming more integrated into daily life, there are more IoT devices such as routers and webcams being used in the home. However, many devices have shortcomings in terms of security, such as lacking measures to alter passwords, which is essential for preventing third parties from hacking them. Nor do many of them have any system in place to update defense programs against cyber-attacks.

If these kinds of IoT devices are hit by cyber-attacks, there is a fear they will be remotely controlled without the owner even being aware of it. It is also possible that such devices will be used as platforms from which to attack government and corporate computer systems.

With no current index to clearly rate cybersecurity measures, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry wants to create the certification to use as a yardstick for determining the safety of IoT devices.

Of cyber-attacks targeting Japan, 64 percent were attacks on IoT devices in 2016, a steep rise from 26 percent in 2015, according to the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, which is under the jurisdiction of the ministry.