Google opens new cybersecurity hub in Japan

Sign pictured outside a Google office near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S. (Photograph: Paresh Dave / REUTERS)

Google on Thursday launched a new cybersecurity hub in Japan, aimed at helping to upgrade defences in the Asia-Pacific.

The region faces a growing cyber threat from a range of actors, including criminal gangs looking for big payouts and state-backed actors pursuing intelligence or sabotage, according to governments and security firms.

These attackers have targeted not only governments and militaries, but also critical infrastructure such as ports and businesses of all sizes.

“We are officially launching the Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Japan, aiming to connect leading security specialists, researchers, and partners,” Google said in a statement.

The centre will conduct research on cybersecurity in collaboration with universities and governments in Japan and elsewhere in the region.

The tech giant will also help boost cybersecurity at 300,000 small to mid-sized businesses, non-profits and other social organisations in the region, said Google’s Kazuya Okubo.

Google had warned in October that the region “is the target of more cyberattacks than any other”.

Governments, including Japan, have echoed those concerns.

In addition to large-scale fraud and ransomware activity by criminal groups, the United States and its allies in the region including Australia have blamed China and Beijing-linked groups for cyberattacks.

In September last year, Japan’s National Police Agency joined its American counterparts, including the FBI, in warning of widespread malware attacks by China-linked cyber actors known as BlackTech.

BlackTech has “targeted government, industrial, technology, media, electronics, and telecommunication sectors, including entities that support the militaries of the US and Japan,” the NPA said in a joint statement.

Washington has alleged that China represents “the broadest, most active, and persistent cyber espionage threat” to its government and private sector.

Beijing, for its part, accuses the United States of being the “world’s biggest hacking empire”, citing its well-documented forays into cyberwarfare, online surveillance and hacking.