Japan cult may have had hand in govt computers

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Japan cult may have had hand in govt computers

TOKYO, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Japan's Defence Agency said on Tuesday it believed the doomsday cult accused of a fatal 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo subway system may have been involved in the installation of its new computer system.

An agency official said it was told by the manufacturer of the system that a member of the Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) cult may have been part of a group of people who installed it.

The system, which would have been used in communication between the Defence Agency's computer system and outside networks, was due to go online on Wednesday. But this has been postponed indefinitely pending checks, the official added.

He emphasised the agency was unaware of the possible link to Aum and that it had made no direct contract with the cult.

Aum, whose computer business has been a major source of its income, may even have been involved in developing the computer software used by a number of government ministries and major companies, NHK television said.

It said a computer software company linked to Aum may have provided systems to the Construction, Education and Posts and Telecommunications ministries and firms such as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT).

Computer experts said this could theoretically have given the software developer a back door into the networks as long as they were connected to the outside world via the Internet.

A spokeswoman at NTT declined to confirm the NHK report, saying the issue was under investigation and the developer of the software product had not yet been verified.

She added that there was no way the cult would have been able to gain access to NTT records.

Japan's computer security came under scrutiny earlier this month following a series of hacker raids on government computer systems.

The transactions, which could include as many as 100 systems, were listed in documents found in a police raid conducted on the company on Tuesday as part of a raid on eight Aum facilities.

Because the Aum-linked company may have acted as a subcontractor to the ministries' regular supplier, they would have been unaware of the possible Aum connection.

Aum has been under government surveillance since the beginning of this month and has had its facilities repeatedly searched by police.

Prompted by fears the cult was making a comeback, Japan's parliament passed strict new laws in December enabling authorities to put the cult under surveillance for three years, through inspecting its sites and obliging the group to submit details of its members and assets to the authorities.

The laws do not specify Aum by name but target the activities of any group that has engaged in ``indiscriminate mass murder'' in the past 10 years. In the 1995 nerve gas attack on the capital's subway system, 12 were killed and thousands injured.

Aum has responded to the growing hostility by saying it has implemented reforms, such as changing its name, and is now a benign religious group.

Aum preached that the world was coming to an end and that the cult must arm itself to prepare for various calamities.

07:41 02-29-00

AOL news no URL

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 29, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ