Govt. to access home devices in security survey

Govt. to access home devices in security survey

Japan will attempt to access Internet-connected devices in homes and offices to find their vulnerabilities. The first-of-its-kind survey is aimed at beefing up cyber-security.

The government approved the survey on Friday. It will be carried out by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology.

Starting mid-February, the institute will generate IDs and passwords in its attempt to randomly break into about 200 million devices, such as routers and webcams.

Owners of the devices that are breached will be informed that they need to improve safeguards.

The institute found that Internet of things devices were targeted in 54 percent of the cyber-attacks it detected in 2017.

A revised law that went into effect last November gives the institute the authority to gain access to people's devices over a five-year period.

A communications ministry official asked the public for its support and understanding, citing the need to improve cyber-security in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year.

Institute of Information Security professor Harumichi Yuasa said it's possible that researchers might unintentionally gain access to webcam images or stored data.

He said this would violate the device owners' constitutional right to privacy if their identities were revealed.

The institute says it will keep under wraps any data obtained in the survey.

Institute researcher Daisuke Inoue says the project's aim is to increase the safety and security of people's devices. He says the institute will ensure that no data is leaked.