The Japanese government has announced that beginning next month it will actively try to hack into its citizens’ internet-connected devices in their homes, reports NHK. Starting in February, the country’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology will use default passwords and password dictionaries and randomly try to infiltrate 200 million devices in homes across Japan, starting with routers and webcams, before moving on to other smart home “internet of things” devices.
Owners of devices that are successfully breached will be informed they were hacked and urged to change their passwords to something more secure. The hacking program is an initiative aimed at increasing cybersecurity in Japan before the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo next year. In a recent survey, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology found that 54% of cyberattacks it detected in 2017 were aimed at IoT devices in Japanese homes.
However, the hacking initiative has come under criticism. Researchers have said the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology could gain access to people’s webcam images and other data during the hacks, violating a citizen’s right to privacy. It’s also unclear whether the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology will retain any such data and for how long, or how they would protect it to make sure any data gleaned from the test doesn’t fall into the hands of actual hackers.