Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications conducts first cyber defense exercise in the Pacific region

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo):(Image Source: Photo AC)


On February 27th, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that it conducted a cyber defense exercise for five Pacific Island countries, including Palau.

This is the first time that the Ministry has conducted an exercise for island countries. The exercise is intended to promote the development of cyber personnel to protect the security of telecommunications infrastructure in the island countries, which are the transit points for undersea telecommunications cables. Based on the results of the exercise and future needs, the Ministry will consider continued support.

The exercise was held in the U.S. territory of Guam from February 18th to 26th, and the U.S. government’s specialized cybersecurity agency also sent an instructor to the exercise. Government officials and telecommunications carrier representatives from Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati attended, with Fiji and Tonga also participating as observers.

The exercise is called ” Cyber Defense Exercise with Recurrence (CYDER)” and is being conducted by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, participating countries have requested continued conduct.

Undersea cables running through and around the island countries also connect to Japan. Although the region can be considered a strategic point for telecommunications infrastructure, measures against cyber-attacks are weak due to a lack of human resources with specialized knowledge, and there have been concerns about the impact on Japan.

Japan’s international support for cyber defense has a proven track record in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Japan financially supported the establishment of a base in Thailand in 2018. About 1,200 people have participated in exercises provided by Japan so far, including CYDER and malware (malicious program) analysis.

This exercise for island countries utilized the latest attack information observed by NICT and dealt with scenarios that could actually occur. The team learned how to respond to a hypothetical cyber-attack such as malware.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will position this time as a trial, and based on the results, will consider whether to launch a framework similar to the one for ASEAN in the island countries.