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The Japanese government is going to hack its own citizens to show them how bad their security is


The sanctioned hack will target roughly 200 million IP addresses

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Japanese government plans to begin a massive hack of its own citizens in order to get them to increase their internet security.

What's the story?

The Japanese government is worried about the threat of cybercrime ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As more and more devices are connected the the internet, hackers find increased opportunities to commit cybercrimes. According to Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, most hacking in 2016 targeted devices connected to the internet other than computers. These can range from webcams to virtual assistants to smart refrigerators. As long as it needs to be connected to the internet, a device can be a potential security risk.

The ministry has granted the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology permission to to start looking for weaknesses in around 200 million IP addresses. For at least part of this process, NICT will reportedly use default and common passwords to try to hack in to a range of internet capable devices, beginning on Feb. 20. CNN reported that these tests will focus on 100 common username and password combinations like "admin" and "1234."

Once it finds unsecure devices, the government will reportedly alert internet providers, who will then let the owners of these devices know that they need to increase their security.

While the initial focus for this government-sanctioned hacking is the upcoming Olympic Games, Forbes reports that it could continue for as long as five years.

What else?

However, security experts also warn that hackers could use the government's scheduled hack to carry out actual cybercrimes.

"How easy would it be to send someone (everyone) a phishing email, claiming to be from the government, saying, 'Your IOT devices failed our testing, please click on this link to get updated,' resulting in a huge number of successful hacks?" Michael Gazeley, the director of the security firm Network Box, told CNN.

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