Japan: A Security Clamp

February 4, 2019

We are used to Olympic athletes pushing the limit of human accomplishment, but authorities in Japan are going even further. In preparation for the 2020 Olympics, the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology has gained permission to hack into citizens’ IOT devices in order to prevent terror attacks. We learned more from a recent ZDnet story, “Japanese Government Plans to Hack into Citizens’ IOT Devices.”

According to the story:

“The plan is to compile a list of insecure devices that use default and easy-to-guess passwords and pass it on to authorities and the relevant internet service providers, so they can take measures to alert consumers and secure the devices…The survey is scheduled to kick off next month, when authorities plan to test the password security of over 200 million IoT devices, beginning with routers and web cameras.”

From home security systems, to coffee pots, to doorbell cameras—these IOT tools are very vulnerable. While it’s promising to see an intelligence agency getting out ahead of a potential issue, the path to safety is fraught with potential problems. Would such a leap in privacy be acceptable in the US? We find it impossible to believe, but it’ll be interesting to see how Japan juggles this issue.

Patrick Roland, February 4, 2019

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