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Rapid7 Threat Report: Japanese companies significant target for state-sponsored attacks

June 2023 by Rapid7, Inc.

Rapid7, Inc. announced the publication of a new cyber threat landscape report focused on Japan and its global business footprint.

Japan Cyber Threat Landscape Report highlights that Japanese businesses are a significant target for state-sponsored attacks. This increased vulnerability has been
driven by a fragile global economy and increased political and diplomatic tensions.

Along with why Japanese businesses are being increasingly targeted, the report details the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) of different state-sponsored groups and their common trends,
why the Japanese automotive industry and financial services sector are of particular interest to these actors, and what can be done to secure Japanese businesses and their subsidiaries.  

Rapid7 researchers observed for example that, as of late 2022 and early 2023, LockBit 3.0 ransomware operators were specifically targeting Japanese organisations — particularly Japanese manufacturers.
The prevalence of manufacturing within Japan makes it the leading target for ransomware groups and nation states, whereas healthcare is the most common target in other parts of the world.

"Manufacturing organisations have a low tolerance for downtime or any other type of operational disruption, and ransomware operators know that makes them vulnerable
to extortion," said Paul Prudhomme, Rapid7 principal security analyst and Japan Cyber Threat Landscape Report author. "When a Japanese manufacturer’s operations are disrupted, it can have supply chain implications worldwide, as many other manufacturers
depend on supplies of Japanese components."

As the world’s third largest economy after the U.S. and China, Japan is home to global corporations with complex networks of overseas operations that include subsidiaries, third-party suppliers,
and other affiliates. This is of particular interest, as the Rapid7 report also notes that many of the most recent compromises of Japanese companies began with unauthorised access to a subsidiary, at which point the attacker was able to move laterally into
the parent company’s network.

"As the parent company brings new subsidiaries and affiliates into its fold, there are likely to be visibility issues that can inhibit proper risk management and mitigation," said Prudhomme.

Rapid7 recommends that Japanese businesses with a global footprint follow specific steps outlined in the report’s Recommendations section, to reduce their risk of exposure to ransomware and
other advanced cyber threats.

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