The Future of Cyber Defense in Japan & Korea

In the present digital age, no country can be too protective in cyber space. Efforts to fortify “cyber borders” are rapidly increasing throughout the world. In Asia, two particular countries, Japan and Korea are gradually realizing the importance of instilling these efforts in the form of education.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Cyber Maturity Report ranked Japan fifth overall in Cyber Maturity, one spot behind Korea, sitting at number four. With an impressive Internet penetration rate of 80%, Japan needs to continue upgrading their cyber security infrastructure as more people start using the internet.

Korea boasts the fastest Internet in the world, and its economy is largely dependent on the ICT sector. Korea is ranked first in the ICT Development Index maintained by the ITU and was also rated highly in other ICT related indices. Building on the momentum, Korea has made cyber security capacity building as one of their top goals.

Best Practices Know No Borders

Organizations like The Korean Internet Security Agency (KISA), through their varying knowledge sharing programs have exchanged best practices and ideas leading to strong relationships with several countries including the UAE, Rwanda, Indonesia, Thailand, Azerbaijan, and Uganda. KISA’s main aim is to exchange experiences on Information security and hold workshops and create programs involving Korean and other International students and stakeholders.

KISA’s projects cover a wide area of fields in Information Security. KISA is also working with universities to create graduate school programs where the curriculum will be jointly drawn up by KISA and the university. KISA’s Vice President Wan S. Yi emphasizes that the revitalizing information security and creating more jobs is also one of KISA’s priorities.
Technology keeps changing rapidly giving rise to new cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Many countries have only played “catch-up” – leaving behind antiquated policies to deal with current dangers.

Despite significant efforts in increasing information security, new emerging markets and economic volatility add confusion to an already complicated security environment. The gap between information security awareness and ability to combat new threats grows larger with every day.

Training A New Generation for Korea

According to Kyung Ho Lee, Professor at the Graduate School of Information Security of Korea University, Korea’s cyber education reforms have largely been made in higher education. Korean IT or cyber defense majors are trained rigorously with an aim to build the future cyber elite force capable of performing newest offensive and defensive skills.

Many countries have only played “catch-up” – leaving behind antiquated policies to deal with current dangers.

Korea University’s (“Cyber Defense Education in Korea”, Kyung Ho Lee ) cyber defense students are taught all the key concepts and techniques required in cyber warfare. Under constant threat from neighbors North Korea and China, cyber warfare readiness has become a top priority for Korea’s Cyber defense curriculum. The military is a popular destination for cyber defense graduates, and a military education specialist is also included in the teaching staff.

The cyber defense curriculum at Korea University is based on information and communications and provides students an overall information security education. Courses are a well balanced mixture of technical, legal, and organizational environment allowing students to think like leaders and professionals.

Japan: Small Steps Won’t Be Enough

Japan has not been as active as their Korean counterparts in promoting cyber defense education. 12.8 billion cyber attacks on government and other organizations last year alone indicates that Japan needs to accelerate their plans and start developing the next generation of cyber security experts.

There are only a few universities which offer courses and programs related to cyber defense education. Furthermore, these courses are only available at the graduate level.

Seccap is a joint educational project run by five universities, including Keio University. All five universities collectively teach the skills required in both cyber attack and defense. Seccap primarily focuses on counter measure and the techniques required in cyber warfare, but there are not many courses in the curriculum as compared to Korea University’s curriculum which give the students leadership insight and organizational skills required to assess and respond to cyber threats.

Even though Seccap offers cyber defense education, the curriculum is similar to that of an Information Systems course. There are no universities in Japan right now that offer Masters degrees exclusively in cyber security. Dendai University has taken the first step, and will start a new program from this August, offering a masters degree in cyber security.

In 2016, Japan hopes to introduce a national certificate program for cyber security professionals. These professionals would be capable of dealing with cyber attacks and also prevent attacks in infrastructural services such as energy sector and finance industry. With Tokyo set to host the 2020 Olympics, the introduction of national certification could be deemed as the need to increase the cyber security experts in the country.

Securing the Future

Korea and Japan, the two top players in Asia, are at different stages of building the future of cyber security experts. Unlike Korea, no Japanese university offers an undergraduate cyber defense program at the moment. If Japan wants to be a global leader in ICT, it needs to promote domestic cyber defense education extensively. This discussion was carried out extensively at the 2014 Asia Forum held by Korea University and Keio University.

With the new 2014 Cyber Security Strategy focused on building a new cyber security center, the next few years are critical for Japan to start making robust efforts. KICIS recently commented on the 2014 Cyber Security Strategy supporting the changes made and reinforcing the need for a robust authority to implement it. If appropriate steps are not taken, Japan might find itself playing catch up with other countries despite having been aware of what dangers are to come.