Improving Cybersecurity in Japan amidst the Current Economic Outlook

Japan is known for being a tech hub in Asia Pacific (APAC) with massive advancements in robotics and machine learning. Yet, when it comes to more humdrum information technology (IT) and security, the country lags behind other advanced economies.

Economies across the globe are facing a downturn and it is no surprise that capital spending, investments and hiring have been slowing down. On the other hand, vulnerabilities like security, safety and privacy have been increasing with more adapting to working from home (WFH) even in Japan. 

To discuss this further, we held a cyber security meet-up, with guest speaker, Chris Covert, who has has dedicated 20 years of his career with a primary focus on security. 

Please watch the recording of the session here.

 

Below is the summary of the session.

What does the current situation in Japan look like?

Reported by Kyodo News, capital spending by Japanese companies fell 11.3% in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, the largest drop in a decade, as the coronavirus pandemic clouded the business outlook.

In times of a global pandemic, Japan’s digital sector supports its economy tremendously by keeping businesses connected whilst socially distant.

However, what has been overlooked is the increasing online threat that suggest economies are not ready to go completely digital. Japan has had many reasons to focus on the security of the nation’s cyber defences. Increasing public worry of cyberattacks have been prevalent, and this is also due to low confidence in their government’s preparedness for dealing with an attack of this kind.

 

How can your business tide through this period?

Covert shared with us programme and team-level projects businesses can take on during times of a crisis.

1. Programme-level projects

From the 2020’s Data Breach Investigations Report, areas that your business should focus on include asset management, and vulnerability or patch management. Covert also shared that transparency automation projects, resiliency automation projects, AKA Orchestration, AKA Automated Runbooks would also give your business a sense of where things are failing silently today. Brush up on existing certifications and standards to make sure your business is compliant to regulations.

2. Team-level projects

Some team-level projects businesses can also focus on include:

  • Orchestration and automation

Covert recommends investing some time in automation. Think of all the repetitive data analysis or synthesis work you do – by automating this you could use this time for something else instead.

  • Mentoring or skills development projects

Do a skills mapping exercise and compare it against your roadmap – are you ready for what is coming? Are you working on things you care about?

  • Transparency or upward reporting projects

Find out what makes your team valuable to the org, measure it, and share pretty charts with anyone who will listen internally

  • Governance and maturity projects

While this can be monotonous and mundane, this can be valuable over time and can be used to demonstrate the value of the whole team.

 

Questions that were discussed during the session

  • What is homomorphic encryption and how can it help cybersecurity?

We face various problems with encryption – once data is encrypted, it no longer is useful because systems are unable to access it without encryption keys. However, homomorphic encryption is valuable as it retains partial information.

Take checking balance sheets as an example - you may require a third party to perform some analysis but be reluctant to give them access to all the confidential information. Homomorphic encryption can be used in this case as it’s a form of ‘format preserving encryption’ which retains selective data on database even during checks.

  • What cyber trends are you seeing in Japan? Has WFH led to an increase in cyber threats? Is business spending increasing because of this?

While it is difficult to give solutions based on broad scenarios, if you are in a sector with notable increase in attacks, then spending to address these problems would go up. Since March, a handful of companies have been hit by hiring freezes due to costs. Adding on to the pressure is an increase in awareness of cyber in Japan, with many embracing it for the first time, even for conservative organisations.

This increase in awareness of cyber, and desire to WFH, has definitely forced companies to see what they can do to adopt better and safer approaches to threats. This has inevitably affected budgets and spending, as threat landscapes continue to evolve.

 Is ‘killing passwords’ a possible solution to threats?

Various new password solutions are available although not widely used. With two-factor authentication on platforms, facial recognition, biometrics and so on, it is possible that it might give people hope to eliminate the need for passwords if platforms become more secure.

 

How can you contribute to the community?

It is first essential to evaluate if you are happy at where you are in your career. Now is a good time to pick up a certification, and even consider going back to school to do a course. If you feel inspired, start working on a pet project that you can add to your portfolio, or pick up a new programming language. If you are a senior in the business, consider mentoring others and networking with others through webinars, meet-ups and roundtables.

If you are considering a move or change in environment, now is also a great time to study job descriptions to find out what people are looking for in a potential candidate. Stay updated by checking your preferred job boards or posting sites a few times a week and review what’s new.

We at Computer Futures, have fantastic opportunities for you in this sector and you can check the available opportunities here, or connect with Gino Bautista, our Associate Sales Team Manager of Computer Futures Japan who hosts our monthly cyber meet-ups.

If you'd like to read more about relevant industry insights, connect with us on LinkedIn, and if you’re interested in joining our cyber community meet-ups, register your interest by filling in the form below!