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Japan boosts cyberdefenses ahead of feared attack -- report

The nation believes that it may become the target of an online attack after the US government confirmed suspicions that North Korea was behind the massive hack of Sony Pictures.

Is Japan next in line after the Sony Pictures hack? Sony Pictures

Japan is boosting its online defenses for fear of becoming the next victim of a North Korean cyberattack, according to a new report.

The Japanese government is formulating a possible diplomatic response and improving its cyberdefenses in the event that its networks are hacked by North Korea, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing comments from unidentified officials. The country has also told Japan-based companies to improve their security in the wake of the hack on Sony Pictures that released scores of documents and emails that included personal and financial information about the company and its employees.

Sony Pictures, which is part of the Japan-based Sony, was attacked last month by a hacker group that calls itself the Guardians of Peace. Last week, the FBI concluded a four-week investigation and confirmed suspicions that North Korea was behind the attack. While North Korea has denied any involvement, it has threatened the US if any actions are taken against it. Retaliation may have already happened. Earlier this week, Internet service across North Korea was out for hours. So far, no one has taken responsibility.

According to Reuters' sources, Japan believes that it could be next in line for a cyberattack due to Sony's decision this week to actually release on Christmas Day. The comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seemingly the reason behind the hack, and the group had demanded that Sony pull the movie or face more repercussions, including the threat of violence in theaters that showed it. Sony decided last week to pull the movie, but reversed itself on Tuesday.

For now, Japan is planning to safeguard its core functions, the energy grid, and other key infrastructure. The government is also in active contact with Sony executives, according to the Reuters report.

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.