Japan Space Agency (JAXA) Hit by Cyberattacks

By Urban Koi – Space Systems Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

Japan’s Space Agency (JAXA) has been hit with a series of cyberattacks since late last year (2023). This week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi reported that sensitive data pertaining to rockets and satellites was not compromised.

Implications of the Cyberattacks

CYBERSECURITY VULNERABILITIES

JAXA performed a comprehensive investigation of the unauthorized access while shutting down impacted networks to verify that no classified data regarding space operations and national security was compromised. Hayashi ensures that all possible measures are being taken to strengthen Japan’s cyber defense to counter any future cyberattacks. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara reported that the cyberattacks on JAXA did not impact his ministry, but he will continue to monitor any further investigation by the agency. Education and Science Minister Masahito Moriyama also reported that there was no damage from the cyberattacks. However, other files that have been compromised may still be a concern, indicating pressing vulnerabilities.

INFRASTRUCTURE OVERHAUL

Although officials have collectively confirmed that classified data was not compromised, the attacks provide empirical evidence that JAXA’s infrastructure contains weaknesses that call for an immediate exhaustive review. With clear flaws that must be tackled without delay, the alarming cyberattacks mean that Japan needs to critically reassess JAXA’s current cybersecurity infrastructure and implement new methods or tools to safeguard national security. Based on how the cyberattacks were executed, it may indicate that systems in place could be antiquated, requiring updates or an innovative overhaul.

INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS

In response to China’s growing military efforts, Japan has been amplifying its own military and working on developing a counterstrike strategy. Japan believes that missile attacks have become an imminent threat as neighboring countries are gearing up. It has been reported that North Korea has conducted an estimate of more than 220 missile tests, including one missile launch that flew over Japan in 2022, but the exact number up to today’s date is not confirmed. China has also launched ballistic missiles into the ocean near southern Japanese islands. Japan suspects that the cyberattacks were perpetrated by nation-state adversaries.

FINANCIAL PLANS

With increased vigilance, Japan plans to double its military defense budget to a max of approximately 43 trillion yen ($320 billion) through 2027. The new expenditure ceiling aligns with the NATO standard and will push Japan’s annual budget to around 10 trillion yen ($72 billion), the world’s third largest after the United States and China. Japan feels that employing a counterstrike is a constitutional retaliation to a direct enemy attack, however, other experts think that it may cross the line of self-defense and Japan should proceed with caution.

Source: Japan’s Space Agency Hit by Cyberattacks | AP