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U.S. cyber czar encourages allies to attribute hacks to states

  • November 17, 2021
  • , Nikkei Asia , 4:24 p.m.
  • English Press

HIROFUMI TAKEUCHI and FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writers

 

TOKYO — The Biden administration’s top cybersecurity official arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday to begin “practical efforts” with Japanese counterparts on setting rules and standards for cyberspace.

 

Improving technical standards, bolstering software and infrastructure security, and building capacity and a workforce across the Asia-Pacific region will be on the agenda for talks this week, Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyberspace and emerging technology, said in a media roundtable on Wednesday.

 

Neuberger credited Japan for joining the U.S. and other allies in July in accusing China of attacking Microsoft email servers. Earlier this year, Japan identified the People’s Liberation Army as a suspect in the hacking of the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

 

“That attribution was important,” Neuberger said. “It pointed to responsible state behavior in cyberspace and how we ensure we work together to put in place those norms.”

 

Japanese institutions grew prone to cyberattacks as they rushed to shift to telework because of COVID-19, laying bare Japan’s vulnerabilities after years of slow digitalization.

 

“The formation of the Digital Agency shows the urgency the Japanese government feels in addressing those same issues and modernizing all our defenses,” Neuberger said when asked for her opinion on Japan’s cybersecurity capabilities.

 

Neuberger said Japan could leverage its relations with Asian neighbors to gain support for cyberspace norms such as encouraging more attributions of cyberattacks, and tracking and discouraging ransomware payments.

 

“Countries shouldn’t allow malicious activity from within their borders like ransomware, or countries should help each other’s computer emergency response teams,” Neuberger said of the global cyberspace framework that the U.S. is pushing.

 

Taiwan, where the critical semiconductor industry is concentrated, would be covered by such norms. “Under the Taiwan Relations Act, we ensure that Taiwan can maintain sufficient self-defense, including in cyber,” Neuberger said.

 

Neuberger told reporters she would also meet with the Japanese private sector to discuss cooperation on new technologies such as 5G open radio access networks, known as Open RAN, and quantum-resistant cryptography, which makes communications systems virtually invulnerable to hacking.

 

“Japanese companies are leaders in that area, and standards-based approaches that are more open and interoperable reflect our values of security and privacy,” Neuberger said. Japanese companies such as Rakuten, Toshiba and NEC have begun exporting their technology for Open RAN telecommunications and quantum encryption.

 

The U.S. will issue further standards on quantum-resistant cryptography in February, Neuberger said.

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