Japan leads regional effort to fight cyber crime

Japan leads regional effort to fight cyber crime

Felix Kim

Japan continues to play a leading role in Indo-Pacific cyber security initiatives with its plans to launch a regional alliance to fight cyber crime in August 2019.

Tokyo’s latest contribution follows the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Cybercrime Dialogue, which held its third meeting on January 18, 2019, in Brunei. The Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), meanwhile, endowed a pair of far-reaching efforts: the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in Bangkok, which opened in September 2018; and the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Development involving Interpol, which ran from 2016 to 2018.

“By ensuring free and open access and trying to counter cyber attacks and trying to make neighboring states more resilient and have more robust defenses,” Jeffery Hornung, Japan analyst at Rand Corp. told FORUM, “Tokyo is trying to send a message that the internet and all cyber business and cyber transactions are a global commons-type domain.”

Japan is spearheading the proposed regional alliance, reported Japan’s Nikkeinewspaper, which aims to involve the 10 ASEAN members along with the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a forum for political and security issues that includes China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, the United States and 13 others. Plans for the alliance include: an office to exchange cyber security information, laws, strategies and practices; joint counter cyber attack exercises; and research to study and prevent attacks, particularly those on critical infrastructure.

The ASEAN-Japan Cybercrime Dialogue (AJCD) was conceived at the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December 2013 to “promote cooperation and dialogue in coping with cyber crime and enhancing cyber security,” according to summit documents. The Brunei AJCD covered cyber crime policy, trends and lessons learned to combat cyber crime, capacity building, and projects to be funded by JAIF.

JAIF, which was created in 2006 to support ASEAN integration and Japan-ASEAN relations, supported the September 2018 opening of the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, Reuters reported. Committed to training cyber security personnel from ASEAN countries, the center aims to deliver graduates skilled in cyber defense, digital forensics and malware analysis. (Pictured: A training program takes place at the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in Bangkok.)

The Japanese firm NEC announced its involvement at the center on September 18, 2019, to hold a variety of cyber security exercises through May 2019, “including incident response exercises for approximately 150 government and critical infrastructure company employees belonging to ASEAN member states.”

Also funded by JAIF is the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Development, a partnership project of ASEAN and Interpol, reported the Interpol secretariat.

“This project strengthened the ability of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to combat cyber crime and work together as a region,” the statement said. “The project also fostered regional strategic discussion” while identifying trends and providing a foundation for improved information exchange.

From 2016 through 2018, the project trained 380 participants from every ASEAN member state, enabling them to conduct national cyber reviews and specialized cyber crime investigations. Research seminars and workshops helped law enforcement officers from across the region to get familiar with cyber threats and trends and share best practices.

Tokyo views internet freedom, cyber protection and cyber resilience as insurance to keep a free flow of information, Hornung said. “Banking and services, everything. If those are endangered by an external power that may want to try to hurt those systems, that becomes a priority for Japan.”

Felix Kim is a FORUM contributor reporting from Seoul, South Korea.