Japan warns experts on threat of cyberattacks

A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017.
REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government issued a warning to national security-related experts Wednesday over cyberattacks aiming to steal information.

The National Police Agency and the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity, or NISC, alerted academics such as university professors, think tank researchers and media personnel about the threat.

Police have confirmed dozens of such attacks nationwide since 2019.

In the cyberattacks, hackers posing as experts or staff at real think tanks send victims emails on requests for speeches or interviews. In their correspondence, hackers send links that they claim to be resources but that install malware when clicked.

Once computers are infected with the malware, hackers will be able to view and steal saved files and emails. While most attacks fail as targets can identify suspicious emails, there have been cases in which people have suffered malware infections.

Victims include experts in the fields of national security, international politics, economics and energy.

Based on the types of malware and the text of emails, it is believed that multiple hacker groups are behind the cyberattacks.

The NPA said it is still looking into whether any state governments are involved.

The agency said that it is important to use antivirus software, and that people receiving suspicious emails should check the identities of senders by means other than email replies, such as by phone calls.