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Innovation

Japanese cybersecurity minister finds computers a mystery

The man in charge of cybersecurity not only said he does not use a PC but seemed stumped when asked about risks associated with USB drives.
charlie-osborne
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

Japan's minister of cybersecurity, the individual in charge not only of the country's digital security but the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has admitted that he does not use a computer.

There is nothing wrong with choosing not to adopt modern technologies such as PCs, smartphones, or tablets -- but when an individual in a political position of power is chosen to drive innovation and cybersecurity forward, such an admission has the potential to cause anxiety.

On Wednesday, as reported by the New York Times, Yoshitaka Sakurada, chief of Japan's cybersecurity department, said during a Parliamentary session that he has no use for computers.

The 68-year-old said during questioning that when running his own business, any task requiring a PC was performed by employees, and when asked basic security questions, Sakurada "appeared confused," according to the publication.

One particular topic of interest was raised during the session was the risk posed to core, critical manufacturing systems and utilities by USB removable drives.

Earlier this month, researchers said the uncontrolled use of USBs represented a "significant and intentional" security risk after uncovering variants of Triton, Mirai, Stuxnet, and WannaCry on removable media in industrial settings -- all of which have the potential to disrupt and damage critical systems and services.

It was back in 2016 that the Industroyer malware was able to cut power to the city of Kiev in Ukraine for an hour, a scenario which may very well be repeated in other cities in the future.

However, when Japan's cybersecurity head was asked about such matters, namely, the use of USB drives in nuclear power facilities, Sakurada "did not seem to understand what they were."

"I don't know details well," he said, according to the NYT. "So how about having an expert answer your question if necessary, how's that?"

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The answers, or lack thereof, caused consternation in opposing parties, one commenting, "It's unbelievable that someone who has not touched computers is responsible for cybersecurity policies."

Sakurada, who is also overseeing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has been in his role as cybersecurity chief for just over a month following a reshuffle conducted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

At a previous press conference, Sakurada showed "a stunning lack of understanding of basic issues" when questioned over the Olympics, according to local publication the Asahi Shimbun.

Sakurada was unable to answer questions relating to North Korean attendees or funding and said his lack of knowledge was the result of not being provided questions ahead of time. Opposition party members rejected this claim.

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