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Asahi Shimbun finds virus ‘trap’ at G7 Summit hotel

The G7 Summit starts on May 27 in Ise-Shima
The G7 Summit starts on May 27 in Ise-Shima

TOKYO (TR) – Ahead of the Group of Seven summit this week in Japan, officials are scrambling to reinforce security amid growing concerns of terrorism. But a virus ‘trap’ found on a Wi-Fi network in a hotel near the summit venue underscores the difficulty of implementing effective cybersecurity measures.

At a hotel in Mie Prefecture designated as accommodation for journalists covering the Ise-Shima G7 Summit starting May 26, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Saturday (May 21) that it discovered a virus planted on a Wi-Fi network.

An Asahi reporter noticed odd behavior on their computer screen when using the hotel’s Wi-Fi, like ads taking an unusually long time to load. Using a site to trace web traffic, the reporter found that an ad originating from Singapore was instead being rerouted to come from Russia.

Traces of tampering was also found on the hotel’s router, which wasn’t password-protected, suggesting that someone intentionally changed the settings. The Asahi couldn’t confirm when the tampering happened, making it unclear whether the unknown party was targeting the summit.

Guests that click on malicious ads would be directed to a virus-infected site that could steal information on their computer, in addition to the risk of infecting other computers.

The Asahi reported the tampering to the hotel, and had them take measures like setting passwords.

“At your own risk”

The government is running heightened security, which includes cybersecurity measures, at summit-related facilities like the international media center.

Cybersecurity measures include dedicated network cables to prevent DDoS attacks and sensitive information leaks as well as wireless access points that require authorization. Mie Prefectural Police are also stepping up cybersecurity for key infrastructure like railways and utility companies.

But the summit governing body has tasked the some 300 accommodation facilities intended for the likes of journalists to handle their own security measures.

A senior Mie Prefectural Police official said that “we’re going as far as calling on accommodation facilities to stay on guard.”

A senior official of the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity said: “Restrictions can’t be put on wireless networks which can be used by an unspecified number of people. You should use them at your own risk.”