Japan beefs up cybercrime-fighting abilities

National Police Agency's plans include compiling a handbook on cybercrime investigations, allocating more specialized officers and employing midcareer engineers from the private sector.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Japanese police have stepped up efforts to investigate cybercrime, following a recent case whereby four men were wrongly arrested over threatening messages sent through remotely controlled computers.

New efforts include compiling a handbook on investigations, allocating more specialized officers and employing midcareer private sector engineers.

According to The Daily Yomiuri on Wednesday, the National Police Agency (NPA) plans to compile a handbook on cybercrime investigations. The handbook will include key concepts learnt from the a review of the recent case, including the fact it is not always possible to identify the sender of a message based solely on a computer's IP address.

A senior NPA official also said the agency aims to enhance the knowledge of investigators who have yet to engage in cybercrime investigations. Prefectural police forces are also expected to employ 545 more officers next year, of which 272 will be assigned to cybercrime investigations.

The agency acknowledged nurturing professional cybercrime investigation skills through in-house training will take considerable time, so it intends to increase recruitment of midcareer engineers from the private sector who can start work immediately. 

The NPA also launched a meeting to discuss leveraging the skills of private sector employees to help investigations but cooperation between both have faced difficulties. "We'd like to benefit from the skills of advanced employees in the private sector, but we have concerns about classified information being leaked," another senior NPA official said.

The announcement of the plans come after the police arrested a man in Tokyo over the weekend on suspicion of spreading a computer virus. This involved four men after threats of mass murder and bombs were sent from their PC, a separate report by The Asahi Shimbun noted.

The Japanese police said last month it will promote ties with White Hats to help them better combat cyberattacks in the country. Its defense ministry also announced plans to create a defense force to fight cyberattacks, gather information on computer viruses for analysis, and study methods of counterattacks.

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