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'White Hat' Hackers Wanted

Mitsuko Nishikawa

Government officials and business owners in Japan are trying to find ways to boost cybersecurity. They've been seeing more sophisticated attacks around the world. So they're looking for skilled hackers who can test their systems and find security flaws.

These people took part in Japan's first international cyber security competition. The organizers wanted to encourage more people to use their computer skills to become white hat hackers.

Engineers and students from 58 countries and territories took part. 24 advanced to the final round. The winner would need to know all about computers, from programming languages to viruses, as well as advanced math.

After 12 hours, teams from South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States swept the top 3 spots. A Japanese team came in 5th place in the defense division.

Recruiting officials from the public and private sectors were at the event. They were eager to meet with the best contestants.

Satoshi Mimura is a graduate student who was one of the top competitors at the event.

"Once I start programming, I don't feel tired at all."
Satoshi Mimura / Graduate school student

Many white hat hackers like Mimura pick up their skills on their own. Mimura began learning about programming when he was in 6th grade. He can analyze viruses used to attack businesses. He's even written his own anti-virus software. And he's already sold it to many firms.

"I've worked with friends online to brush up my skills and I've written program codes. Working together to create something outstanding is really cool."
Satoshi Mimura / Graduate school student

Researchers at a think tank in Tokyo say Japan needs 300,000 white hat hackers. That's triple the current number. Government and business leaders are taking steps to meet those needs.

Major electronics maker Fujitsu has built a new training facility.

About 120 employees are there to learn about hacking and other threats. The most advanced members of the group teach their colleagues.

They share their knowledge about the latest viruses, and other information on cyber-attacks. Company officials hope this will help more employees quickly develop the skills they need.

"Having knowledge isn't enough. Experience is also necessary. And we want our workers to develop advanced skills."
Taisyu Ohta / Head, Fujitsu Security Initiative Center

Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympics in 5 years. Researchers say that's one reason they expect cyber-threats to increase in the coming years. Government and business leaders hope that by encouraging more people to become white hat hackers, they can protect themselves against devastating attacks.

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