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Japan: Cyberdefense Skills Hard to Cultivate, Especially at SDF Wages
Source: yomiuri.co.jp
Source Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Thematic Website, Knowledge Management in Government, Citizen Engagement
Country: Japan
Created: Nov 20, 2012

The Defense Ministry is having trouble finding enough qualified personnel to staff its 100-member cyberdefense unit planned to be launched in fiscal 2013.

The new unit needs experts in computer viruses and hacking techniques, but developing qualified personnel within the ministry has been slow going, and outside recruitment has faced difficulties in terms of pay and security.

At a meeting of the House of Representatives Security Committee on Nov. 8, a committee member asked: "The militaries of the United States and Europe have hired [outside] hackers, but the Japanese people consider hackers to be the bad guys. Will the Defense Ministry hire them?"

Daisuke Miyajima, parliamentary vice defense minister, declined to comment, but another senior ministry official informally confirmed that they are indeed looking to hire hackers.

"We cannot defend our computer systems without knowing how they will be attacked," he said. "We are looking to hire talents who cannot be developed by the Self-Defense Forces under the defense-only policy."

However, the ministry said it is not looking to hire "bad" hackers who access computers illegally. The ministry said it wants "good" hackers who are gifted engineers with deep knowledge of how computers and networks operate.

Currently, the SDF has four units comprising 360 members total, including the command communication unit, that are responsible for protecting its computer system.

The ministry has been unable to find enough qualified staff to run the new 100-member unit among its existing teams.

Although the SDF has sent personnel to Carnegie Mellon University in the United States to study computer virus analysis since 2000, only 30 people have so far completed the program.

The senior official said the ministry must hire outside experts if it wants to launch the new unit in time, but the salaries the SDF is offering have hindered recruiting.

SDF members who serve in particular ways, such as on combat aircraft or submarines, are paid relatively well. For example, a captain who pilots a jet receives a flight allowance of about 200,000 yen a month in addition to a basic monthly salary of about 300,000 yen.

SDF computer engineers, however, are not eligible for special pay.

The ministry can opt to hire experts from private companies through special contracts with the firms, but this method creates problems in terms of how to protect classified information after the contracts expire.

Militaries around the world are already recruiting private-sector IT experts.

The commander of a U.S. cyberdefense unit attracted attention in July by calling for hackers to join the military.

At a hacker conference in Las Vegas, the commander said that while the pay was low, they would have a great time in the military.

It has also been reported that the Chinese military hires outside experts to help run its cyberwarfare unit.

"It is difficult for military education, which aims to institutionalize its members, to develop geniuses," said Motohiro Tsuchiya, Keio University professor and member of a government information security panel. "In cyberspace, just having one gifted hacker can make a huge difference. Japan should modernize its human resource development system to keep up with other militaries."
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