Threat Actors Breach Japan's Kobe Steel and Pasco in Latest Defense Industry Targeted Cyber Attacks

February has brought an onslaught of breach-related news from Japan. These latest disclosures follow those from Mitsubishi Electric and NEC, two of the largest players in the Japanese defense industry:

Kobe Steel and Pasco found some of their intracompany network terminals were infected with a computer virus, likely from unauthorized outside access in August 2016 and May 2018, respectively, according to the ministry.

Kobe Steel said a total of 250 files -- including information on the ministry, as well as personal data -- might have been leaked. The company has taken measures to beef up cybersecurity.

A Pasco official quoted a third party as saying the attacker may have links to China.

Kobe Steel has been a supplier of submarine parts for the Self-Defense Forces, while Pasco has provided the SDF with satellite data.

Is this a precursor of what is to be expected as Tokyo 2020 approaches?

Bank of Japan Warns Cyber Attack Forthcoming During Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Japan has a lot of work to do to finish preparing for the Olympics in approximately 170 days. There is a seemingly insurmountable amount of effort remaining to secure the country from Olympics-related cyber attacks. Now the Bank of Japan is warning the Financial Services Industry to take appropriate measures to prepare for the inevitable:

In a BOJ survey conducted in September, nearly 40% of respondents said they had experienced cyber-attacks, and more than 10% had suffered disruptions to their business.

Over 70% believed the threat of cyber-attacks has increased since 2017 - the last time the BOJ conducted a similar survey - while nearly 60% said they have departments specializing in cyber incidents, the survey showed.

Still, about 60% of the 402 financial institutions surveyed said they were not able to secure enough staff to oversee measures to deal with cyber-attacks.

Hackers Targeting Japan by Leveraging Coronavirus Scare to Spread Emotet

e-Crime threat actor Mummy Spider has been observed capitalizing on the current Coronavirus scare by using the outbreak as a phishing attack theme. The attackers have crafted official looking emails in an attempt to lure unsuspecting victims into opening a document infected with Emotet:

The emails falsely claims that there are reports of coronavirus patients in the Gifu, Tottori and Osaka prefectures in Japan, urging victims to read an attached Microsoft Word document which contains the Emotet trojan. The messages are particularly dangerous because they were made to look like official government emails, equipped with legitimate addresses, phone numbers and emails.

The emails have predominantly been composed in native Japanese language, and have spoofed a number of prefectural governments across Japan, to include the Kyoto Prefectural Yamashiro Minami Public Health Center.

Malicious actors, especially e-crime adversaries, often use current events in spear-phishing campaigns. Playing on peoples fears is quite common, and leveraging official-looking communications make these campaigns difficult for the average citizen to discern between what is true and what is fake.

If you are a recipient of these types of emails, before opening any attachments ask yourself the following question: did I provide my email address to the Ward Office or City Hall?

If the answer is no, then quite obviously do not open the attachment because it is most likely malicious.

If the answer is yes, then cross-reference the communication with what is listed on their web site, or even call to check if this is valid. Local governments will generally not inform their inhabitants via email with a requirement to open an attachment. They will generally post important information on their web site, and social media accounts, as email cannot be trusted. Even in Japan.

As a general rule, never open an unsolicited email attachment unless you are one-hundred percent sure of its authenticity.

Japan Fearing Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak with Olympics on the Horizon

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are right around the corner and the Wuhan Coronavirus has the entire nation concerned. There are expected to be millions of visitors across Japan to support the Olympics, and Japan is worried a coronavirus outbreak may have a devastating impact on the nation:

Although Japan has seen just one case, the outbreak highlights the risk of contagion given the millions of visitors expected for the Summer Games.

“We have to be very careful about what kind of infectious diseases will appear at the Tokyo Olympics,” Kazuhiro Tateda, president of the Japanese Association for Infectious Diseases, told a briefing on Wednesday.

“At these kinds of mass gatherings, the risks increase that infectious diseases and resistant bacteria can be carried in.”

Being a Tokyo resident, and someone who frequently travels abroad, this virus is extremely concerning. On the one hand, I do not want to unknowingly catch something while abroad on business. On the other, I do not want the influx of tourists to have any major, lasting health effects on Japan.

Suicides in Japan Fall Below 20,000 to Record Low in 2019

Although Japan is stereotypically known as the suicide country, the latest statistics are painting a different picture. The number of officially recorded suicides in Japan has decreased to below 20,000 for the first time since 1978:

There is still a possibility that final tallies, which will be published in March, will show a slight increase to above 20,000, the ministry said. But even so, it’s possible that the 2019 figure will represent an all-time low, breaking the mark set in 1981 of 20,434, according to ministry official Yoshindo Nonaka.

The ministry’s figures show that 2019 marked a 10th consecutive year-on-year decrease in the number of suicides, down 881 people — or 4.2 percent — from a year earlier

The number of suicides recorded in Japan stood at 19,959 last year, falling below the 20,000 mark for the first time since authorities began keeping such records in 1978, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the health ministry.

Although the exact reason is not yet known, I think everyone can agree the downward trend is extremely positive.