Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Japan: What You Need to Know

The internet has made life easier in Japan and other parts of the world. Japan has been at the frontline of technological innovations and adoptions worldwide. However, the internet has also exposed us to new and more significant threats.

So much of our data is now online. Consequently, unscrupulous third parties can access and compromise such information if you lack robust security. In addition, devices and software are often susceptible to data and internet breaches. Therefore, every Japanese internet user must consider their cybersecurity status. 

Security largely depends on how much you know about the current threats. But, you must back up this information with strategies for online safety. Fortunately, this article tells you all you need to know on this subject.

How Serious Are Cybersecurity and Data Breach Threats in Japan?

Very serious! Japanese netizens face significant cybersecurity threats when browsing within Japan. For example, The Economist states that Japan is very backward in cybersecurity. This conclusion was in comparison with other advanced economies. Notably, The Economist also revealed that 14 million people were still using Windows 7 in Japan in 2020.

Such reliance on outdated software is one primary source of data breaches. In fact, the report shows that top companies had reported cyber-attacks. Some of them include:

  • Mitsubishi Electric, and 
  • Honda.

Furthermore, in 2019, Japan’s Uniqlo reported a significant data breach. It stated that the hackers had accessed the data of 460,000 customers.

Unfortunately, even educational companies aren’t left out of the hacks. For example, Benesse suffered a data breach leading to the theft of 29 million customers’ data. 

In this case, Benesse’s employee was responsible for this data export. In addition, investigations discovered that the Benesse subsidiary involved should have known that its data wasn’t secure. From all these issues, it’s clear that the hacked parties were partly responsible for these attacks. 

What You Need to Know About the Causes of Data Breaches in Japan

Data breaches essentially occur when unauthorized persons access and use data. Therefore, human activity is the focus. The hacker is responsible for the cyber-security threat. However, victims can also contribute to these cyber-security attacks. 

For example, government statistics show that only 55% of Japanese companies assess their cyber-security risks. In other advanced countries, this percentage is much higher. 

Consequently, many of these companies don’t take cyber-security measures. The absence of any measures thus increases a company’s chances of succumbing to data breaches. 

Japan’s Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI)

The silver lining of these cyber-security failings is that the government took action. For example, it immediately strengthened the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI). The APPI is the primary data protection legislation in Japan. 

Therefore, do you desire increased data protection? If you do, then you should familiarize yourself with this law. It significantly strengthens and enforces the respect and proper handling of Personal Information. In addition, one excellent feature of the APPI is the review clause. 

The Japanese legislature will review and update the APPI every three years. Notably, this is a welcome development. This is because it considers continuous technological developments. 

Relevant Protections Under the APPI

The APPI primarily applies to companies. It guides how they handle personal information. So, the APPI:

  • Prevents unauthorized disclosure of Personal Information by business operators.
  • Expanded the right to the erasure of Personal Information. Employees can enforce this right if their company has suffered a data leakage or breach. In addition, it applies where handling personal data could harm the company.
  • Mandates companies to report data breaches, subject to certain thresholds. 
  • Provides that employers must obtain the data subject’s consent to transmit data abroad. However, this is necessary where the transmission is to a third party.
  • Requires Personal Information operators to disclose their addresses. 

Finally, it’s noteworthy that breaching these provisions is a severe offense. Liable parties could face:

  • Heavy fines of up to 100 million Japanese Yen.
  • Imprisonment of up to one year.
  • A publication of the names of uncooperative operators.

How to Improve Your Cyber-Security and Prevent Data Breaches

Cyber-security breaches are artificial. Therefore, you can prevent them. This is the aim of exposing the prevalence of cyber insecurity in Japan. The goal isn’t to scare you off the internet. 

Instead, it’s so that you can implement countermeasures for securing your devices and internet connection. So, follow the tips below for better cyber-security.

Use Strong Passwords

Passwords are the gateway to most data storage. For example, devices and social media accounts need passwords. Furthermore, companies password their on-site gadgets and online accounts. A breach can thus occur when a third party guesses your password.

That’s why most platforms demand strong passwords. Simple rules for safer passwords include:

  • Don’t share passwords across several accounts. If one is hacked, others will be at risk.
  • Don’t use easy password inspiration like birthdays. Hackers first start guessing passwords from these examples.
  • Don’t write down your passwords on retrievable platforms. 
  • Share your passwords with no one.

Update Your Apps and Device Software

Applications and devices update their software frequently. When they do, they usually send notifications to users. Unfortunately, many people don’t update this software. App makers often check their software for bugs and security lapses. Then, they fix these problems in the next update. 

Consequently, the new updates are safer. Conversely, the older versions are less secure, and the app manager may stop servicing the app. Using old versions of any app exposes you to significant online threats. 

In addition, some of such weaknesses may already be public knowledge. Therefore, cybercriminals know how to hack the users successfully. It’s thus best to always use the latest version of all internet applications. 

Use VPNs

Many people use virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass geo-restrictions. However, a VPN can do more than unblock Netflix in Japan. For example, an excellent VPN encrypts your internet connection. Also, it routes it through a secure tunnel, safe from hackers. 

Therefore, hackers and data snoops cannot access your data. Furthermore, your Internet Service Providers collect your browsing data. So, they can then sell this information to third parties. Moreover, these buyers can target you for adverts. 

Suppose you’re unlucky, though. Then, unscrupulous parties can get their hands on your data. You can then be the target of data breaches. Fortunately, a VPN doesn’t store your internet connection logs. So, such data can never leak, be sold, or be stolen.

Use Reliable Antivirus Software

Several cyber-security threats come from computer virus attacks. Therefore, it’s vital to install antivirus software on your devices. Statistics show that antiviruses are the leading internet security measure amongst Japanese companies. But, it’ll be best if you don’t just choose any software. Instead, thoroughly select reliable anti-viruses. 

Notably, there are advanced viruses like malware. Any antivirus you choose must thus have anti-malware capacities. Finally, it’s best only to use paid antivirus software. The free versions usually include ads and other features that can also endanger your devices. 

Restrict Access to Your Gadgets 

Restricted access is a guaranteed way of increasing cyber-security. Attacks could occur if several people have access to your devices. This would also be the case where multiple people can access your social media and email accounts. Notably, data breaches aren’t external.

Instead, data snoops can access networks and steal private data. Therefore, it’ll be best to limit the people that handle your gadgets. For companies, not all employees should have access to sensitive data. Instead, only a few vetted individuals should enjoy such access.

Review Permissions for Apps 

Mobile apps usually request permission to access files on your device. For example, social media apps require access to your:

  • Contact list,
  • Camera,
  • Calendar,
  • Microphone,
  • Geo-location, etc.

Some apps cannot function properly without these permissions. However, some don’t need all the access they request. Granting access to such apps means that they can collect, analyze, and use your data. 

Therefore, you must ensure that you only grant access to secure apps. A malicious application or browser extension can lead to significant data breaches. Thus, it’ll help to scrutinize all permission requests.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks

Public Wi-Fi networks are pretty attractive. For instance, they’re often fast and free. But unfortunately, such networks don’t encrypt your internet traffic. Cybercriminals thus stalk these spots to hack unassuming Wi-Fi users. That’s why it’ll be best to avoid public Wi-Fi connections. 

Don’t share sensitive data over the network if you must use them. Some online activities can expose vital information such as your:

  • Login details.
  • Passwords.
  • Private emails.
  • Credit card details.
  • Medical records.
  • Location details.

Therefore, it’ll be best not to carry out financial and other transactions over public Wi-Fi. On the other hand, suppose you must use a shared internet connection. Then, it’ll be best to do so over a VPN connection. 


If you’re in Japan, you face a significant threat of data breaches. However, such poor cybersecurity scenarios aren’t inevitable. Instead, you can implement measures to protect your gadgets and internet connection. All the information you need for increased online safety is above. Therefore, you only need to act on the tips we’ve explained.