Hackers Strike Japan Pension Service

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Attackers access the personal details of more than one million individuals

Personal information on more than one million Japanese citizens has been leaked after the country’s pension system was hacked, the Japan Pension Service (JPS) said on Monday.

An email-borne virus opened the door to an attack in which the names, pension numbers and dates of birth of more than one million people, the service said. Another 52,000 people’s names, pension numbers, birth dates and home addresses were compromised, as well as the names and pension numbers of further 31,000.

Whistleblower leak keyboard security breach © CarpathianPrince Shutterstock

The incident is the latest large-scale hack to put users’ personal information into the hands of hackers, with recent targets including government bodies, commercial websites and retail outlets such as Target.

“I have instructed Health and Welfare Minister (Yasuhisa) Shiozaki to consider the pension recipients and do everything possible,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in remarks broadcast on NHK television on Monday evening.

Outside experts appointed

JPS president Toichiro Mizushima apologised for failing to prevent the hack and the service said it is forming a committee of third-party experts to investigate and improve security. Shiozaki also issued an apology.

The welfare ministry said the data stolen wouldn’t be sufficient to access pension funds. The JPS said it will change the pension numbers of those affected. The hack was detected on Tuesday, the JPS said.

The incident recalls a 2007 scandal over botched pension record-keeping that contributed to a devastating defeat by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party that year. Abe was re-elected in 2012.

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