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Japan investigates potential Russian Killnet cyber attacks

The hacker group has said it’s revolting against the country’s militarism and that it’s “kicking the samurai”

Japan is investigating whether Killnet, a pro-Russian group, launched cyber attacks on multiple government websites after they suffered disruptions yesterday.

The government had problems accessing more than 20 websites across four government ministries which may have been caused by a denial-of-service attack (DDoS), according to Reuters

"We are aware that the (Killnet) hacker group suggested it was behind the attacks, but at the moment we are still investigating the cause of the failures, including the group's involvement," said Hirokazu Matsuno, chief cabinet secretary.

Matsuno explained that government websites couldn’t be accessed on Tuesday evening but services were restored later in the day.

The attacks have also led the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to launch an investigation into the attacks, according to the Japan Times.

There were difficulties accessing several websites yesterday including the government’s e-Gov portal website, the eLTAX local tax-related portal, and IT company Mixi’s social media platform.

Killnet has posted a message on its Telegram channel claiming it targeted the country’s online public services and the tax authority’s electronic system. The hacker group said it was revolting against Japan’s militarism and that it was “kicking the samurai.” 

Earlier this week, Japan protested over Russia carrying out military exercises on Russian-held islands claimed by Japan, as reported by SCMP. Following this, Russia scrapped an agreement with Japan which allows former Japanese residents visa-free visits to the islands.

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Killnet has been thought to be behind several cyber attacks on other countries recently. In August, it allegedly blocked access to over 200 state and private Estonian institutions’ websites. This came after a Soviet Tu-34 tank was moved from a public display in Narva to a museum. The Estonian government said that this was the most extensive cyber attack it had faced since 2007.

In May, Italy’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) warned organisations of a heightened risk of cyber attacks from pro-Russian hackers. Although the authority didn’t specify the identity of the hackers, it was thought the hackers were the Killnet group. Earlier in May, CSIRT also prevented a Killnet-linked cyber attack on the Eurovision song contest’s voting system, which was believed to be an attempt to stop Ukraine from winning the competition.

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