Japan seems to have a reputation for being a technologically advanced country more than most. It might surprise, even shock, some, however, how behind it is in some aspects. That, unfortunately, may have come to light in recent weeks as Japan prepares to host the Olympics next year. And one of its steps to ensure the security of the event is to try and hack into local IoT devices to weed out those with insecure software.
Hacking systems to test their security isn’t exactly an absurd idea. After all, that’s what “white hat” hackers and some hobbyists do. What’s a bit comical is that it is probably one of the very few publicized instances of a government approving a law to give its ICT arm permission to hack into their own citizens devices in the name of security for an international event.
Mind, it’s not going to be some deep and serious hack. Employees from Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) will simply try to break through devices’ firmware using their default credentials and passwords. the NICT will then submit the list of failing devices to ISPs and authorities who will then, presumably, alert consumers about their potentially insecure smart home device.
While that may sound reassuring from a privacy point of view, presuming those employees really do stay within legal limits, it does mean that, ironically, they really won’t be testing anything worthwhile. It would be like a cursory surface inspection of a product without looking inside. While they might indeed find a few insecure firmware, those will hardly stop serious hackers from getting into majority of the other devices.
With the 2020 Olympics nearing, the Japanese government is ramping up its efforts, especially its PR, to show that it’s taking even IT security seriously. Unfortunately, it might be having the opposite effect and reveals how little it thinks of it instead.