Japan’s space agency hit by series of cyberattacks, no sensitive data breached, officials confirm

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi confirmed multiple cyberattacks on JAXA since late last year, with no compromise of classified information, while emphasising enhanced cybersecurity measures and ongoing investigations.

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Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi confirmed that Japan’s space agency, JAXA, has been targeted by several cyberattacks since late last year. The agency has been investigating the breaches, shutting down affected networks, and verifying that no classified information related to rocket and satellite operations or national security was compromised.

Hayashi also confirmed that hackers are located outside Japan and emphasised Japan’s commitment to enhancing its cybersecurity defences. Amidst increasing military developments in response to China’s growing power, Japan aims to develop a counterstrike capability, though experts believe Tokyo will still rely heavily on the United States for launching long-range missiles.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara assured the public that the attacks have not impacted his ministry but stated that he is closely monitoring JAXA’s ongoing investigation. As part of the investigation, a portion of the affected JAXA network was temporarily shut down.

JAXA, which develops and launches satellites and is involved in advanced missions like asteroid exploration and potential lunar human exploration, has faced multiple cyber incidents since 2016. That year, it was among 200 Japanese companies and research institutes allegedly targeted by Chinese-speaking military hackers. Last year, unknown hackers also attempted to breach JAXA’s network server but failed to access information critical to the operation of rockets and satellites.

In February 2024, Japan’s cyber official Kazutaka Nakamizo highlighted the increasing cyber threats to the country’s critical infrastructure, particularly from China. However, he did not specify which attacks were believed to be linked to Beijing.