Japan had always been spared from ransomware because its language was too difficult. Until now

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Neither expensive protection systems, nor great experts on staff. Over the last few years, companies and institutions in Japan have more or less managed to weather the wave of ransomware cyberattacks thanks to the most unexpected… and of course effective protection: your language.

Although the country of the “rising sun” is home to large corporations and one of the richest nations of the world, the complexity of its language has for years acted as a natural barrier against international hacker groups. There were simply just as attractive victims in the West who did not demand to dominate. the asian alphabetwith its hiragana, katakana and kanji.

Until now.

New resources, new goal

The crime sector also has its tendencies and currents. And in the case of ransomware, malware that threatens victims with blocking or data disclosure seems to be increasingly targeting Japan. What until recently was an unattractive “market” for the large hacker gangs, installed —or that is believed— in Russia, Belarus and the rest of Eastern Europe, it has become a most appetizing sweet. The reason? A cocktail of factors.

Perhaps the most important —details Financial Times— is the wear and tear of the usual pirate fishing grounds. Criminals change their strategies and look for ways that still allow them to attack large corporations, yes; but little by little and as the news accumulates, its victims gain experience and resources. A Nuub study calculates that 70% of Spanish firms plan to allocate more funds to cybersecurity, considerably more than in recent years.

COVID and the expansion of teleworking during the start of the pandemic opened new opportunities for hackers in the West, but this scenario changes little by little and the gangs have chosen to look at new “markets”, just as profitable and in which companies and institutions have less experience and may be willing to pay ransoms. In this turn, Japan, the country that until now has lost its attractiveness due to the complexity of its language, occupies a key position.

What is Ransomware and how can you protect yourself from it?

Does that mean that the bands have begun to study manuals on Japanese? Have you taken advantage of the pandemic to familiarize yourself with the Japanese alphabet? No. Quite simply, they now have more motivation to overcome the barrier… and more resources to help them in that effort.

If until not long ago sending an email in Japanese was a litmus test for cybercriminals and it was relatively easy for any administrator to detect typos that betrayed the deception miles away —nothing that doesn’t happen often with many scam emails in Spanish—, the new tools of the pirates now make that mission much easier.

Thanks to increasingly accurate artificial intelligence (AI)-based translation software and even the help of professional translators who may not be aware of the end use of their work, hackers are able to bypass the language barrier. There are already cases that prove it. At the end of 2021 a small hospital in the country suffered the devastating effects of a cyber attack.

I have negotiated with crackers in a ransomware attack: they asked us for 1 bitcoin or we lost all our information

Financial Times date to directors of the firm Nihon Cyber ​​Defense (NCD) who claim to have received a sharp increase in attacks. The trend can be seen both in the country and in the operations of Japanese firms internationally. Officially in 2021 they would have communicated 146 incidents, a figure not excessively high; but what, how slide the american rotaryprobably represents only a fraction of the actual volume of cyberattacks.

The problem, of course, is not unique to Japan, nor does it mean that the threat will completely tip over and free Western companies. In recent months, some Western companies and institutions have suffered major attacks and just a year ago, in July 2021, the US registered colossal attack that affected about 200 companies in the country.

Furthermore, according to a report prepared by the firm Sophos, last year the percentage of businesses that faced ransomware globally doubled: if in 2020 they accounted for just 37%, in 2021 they were already 66%. His sample in Spain raises the data slightly, to 71%.

Cover image | Michael Geiger (Unsplash)

Neither expensive protection systems, nor great experts on staff. Over the last few years, companies and institutions in Japan have…

Neither expensive protection systems, nor great experts on staff. Over the last few years, companies and institutions in Japan have…

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