The Japanese defence ministry has commissioned Fujitsu to develop a virus that can track, identify and disable a system used by cyber-attackers, according to reports in the local media.
Japanese law prevents the military from launching cyber-attacks and also bans the development of viruses. However, there have been calls for a relook at the laws, especially in the wake of several cyber-attacks on government websites and on the sites of private defence contractors recently.
The government is considering initiating legal changes to enable the creation of new viruses to tackle cyber-attacks. The defence ministry's Technical Research and Development Institute awarded a three-year, $2.3 million project to Fujitsu to develop a 'search-and-destroy' virus to disable the source of cyber-attacks, according to Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun.
The new malware has already been tested in a closed network environment, the paper claimed. The virus has the ability to identify the source of the cyber-attack and disable it. It is considered to be the most effective tool to trace the source of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as well as other cyber-attacks.
Globally, in the wake of growing cyber-attacks, governments and corporates are increasingly veering around to the view of offensive counter attacks, instead of merely opting for passive defences.
Last year saw a rash of cyber-attacks on prominent websites including the US Federal Reserve, WordPress, Mastercard and Visa. After the US government decided to block funding of WikiLeaks through the use of Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, a group of supporters of the whistleblower site attacked the three payment gateways.