US, Japan deepen cyber information sharing

US, Japan deepen cyber information sharing
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Japan has inked an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deepen cyber information sharing between the governments of the two nations, officials said Thursday.

Tokyo has signed on to participate in the DHS’s Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS), a platform that allows two-way sharing of cyber threat indicators between the U.S. government and the private sector as well as other organizations worldwide.

The development was announced by officials at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington early Thursday afternoon. 

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“This morning, I was honored to receive the signed terms of use from Japan to join AIS, and this is indicative of the priority of both of our organizations place on information sharing,” Thomas McDermott, DHS deputy assistant secretary for cyber policy, said. 

McDermott said that Japan’s participation “dramatically increases the reach of AIS and the scope of the ecosystem that we are trying to build.” 

“We are grateful for Japan for its commitment and look forward to working with them on next steps to implement the AIS program,” McDermott said. 

Ikuo Misumi, deputy director-general at Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity, also celebrated the decision.

Misumi said that Tokyo hopes to cooperate with the U.S. in several areas of cybersecurity, including working on measures to take down botnets and further increasing information sharing between the two nations to improve incident response. 

McDermott also emphasized the DHS’s willingness to provide cybersecurity help to Japan ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 

“Certainly, DHS is committed to working with Japan and providing whatever assistance —technical or experience — that we have that we can share with the Japanese government as they complete their preparations leading up to and during the Games,” McDermott said. 

More generally, McDermott emphasized the department’s commitment to making cybersecurity a priority.

“Cyber threats are changing and evolving quickly and that means we all as a cyber community have to be ready to respond,” the official said. “At DHS, we are trying to lean as far forward as we can in information sharing and really trying to get ahead of the threat.” 

DHS is responsible for safeguarding federal government networks and U.S. critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The department has a number of information-sharing initiatives to work with the private sector on cybersecurity of critical assets.

Industry representatives have acknowledged that the DHS has made gains in sharing cyber threat information, but noted that there is room for improvement. Lawmakers have sought ways to improve the DHS’s cyber mission, for instance considering legislation that would reorganize the DHS’s cyber efforts and consolidate them into one operational agency.