crime

14-year-old boy arrested for creating ransomware; 1st such arrest in Japan

21 Comments

A 14-year-old boy in Osaka Prefecture was charged Monday for allegedly created ransomware, the first such arrest in Japan, police said.

The third-year junior high school student is suspected of combining free encryption software to create ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts computer files and makes them inaccessible until the user pays a ransom, the sources said.

The student living in the city of Takatsuki has admitted to creating the ransomware on Jan. 6. He uploaded it to an overseas website and guided people to the website through social media so they would download it, the sources said. He told investigators it took him about three days to create the ransomware using his personal computer.

While no financial losses from the malware infection have been confirmed so far, people who downloaded the malware could also be charged with violating the law on acquiring electromagnetic records by illegal command, the sources said.

The teen's ransomware allowed a downloader to infect a victim's computer, demanding in Japanese that a payment be made in digital currency.

The student has told investigators he wanted to become famous and the ransomware had been downloaded more than 100 times.

The boy participated in a computer skills class on how to assemble a personal computer when he was in elementary school, according to the sources.

The Kanagawa prefectural police encountered the case through cyberpatrolling in January and confiscated the teen's computer during a house search in April.

The arrest came after a massive cyberattack in May using ransomware known as WannaCry that hit over 150 countries, disrupting the British health service system and work at numerous organizations, including Japanese companies.

The WannaCry ransomware, which demanded payment in virtual currency bitcoin in exchange for a password to unlock data, is believed to have circulated across networks by exploiting a weakness in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"Ransomware is on the rise with the spread of virtual currency bitcoin," said Tetsutaro Uehara, a professor at Ritsumeikan University who specializes in information security.

Noting it is difficult to recover data once a computer is infected with ransomware, Uehara said it is "crucial to make backups just in case."

Computer security firm Trend Micro Inc. detected over 65,400 ransomware attacks in Japan last year, marking a 9.8-fold jump from the year before, according to the company.

Ransomware targeting Android smartphones and tablet devices surged in the first quarter of 2017, with the security company confirming 123,100 types worldwide during that period, around 5.6 times more than those seen a year earlier.

© KYODO

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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The third-year junior high school student is suspected of combining free encryption software to create ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts computer files and makes them inaccessible until the user pays a ransom, the sources said.

He told investigators it took him about three days to create the ransomware using his personal computer.

While what he did was a crime, I do have to scratch my head in amazement that a JHS student was able to do this in three days.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

While what he did was a crime, I do have to scratch my head in amazement that a JHS student was able to do this in three days.

There are instructions for everything on the internet. It doesn't take a genius to search and follow instructions.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Give that boy a scholarship, an internship, and then a job. Make him use his powers for good.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

@Maria...agreed. Re-calibrate the guy and re-direct those talents in the right way. I will hire the dude!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

A 14-year-old boy in Osaka Prefecture

Just curious to know why Kanagawa/Yokohama are involved and not Osaka ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Give him a job in Japan's new cyber security squad.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Lock him up and throw away the key

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

And this govt (amongst otheres) still believes the greatest threat posed to peace requires more and more weapons of mass destruction.

If teenagers and their pc's can infiltrate networks and systems and cause massive security panics(and they have done so many times), what can a dedicated team of govt / private sponsored experts numbering in 1,000s hell bent on attack do?  Traditional police / military operations (more guns, planes & bombs...) have little chance.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is the sort of person the government should be employing.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

There are instructions for everything on the internet. It doesn't take a genius to search and follow instructions.

Yes, but that's easier said than done. If you are talking about building a website then fair enough. But not what he did.

The third-year junior high school student is suspected of combining free encryption software to create ransomware,

That does not sound like something anyone can do.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Internet can be used for good, and it can be used for ill. What the boy did was absolutely a crime. Hope the boy with such a great talent makes good use of his genius in a way that could prevent cyber crimes like what he did this time around.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@browny1 a few years back, when Aso was the big guy, he was pushing for japan to go to war with china. when asked by a journalist how a much smaller nation with a fast ageing population could attack and invade china? his reply...teach old people how to use drones and cyber attacks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

FFirstly a 14 year old boy can not be arrested.

SSecond give this kid a job.

TThird, "electromagnetic records by illegal command" ... I think they need to update the law if they actually used that wording... Hopefully a bad translation.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Give this kid and the one who did a good job of hacking last year a job, ASAP. Japan is weak when it comes to cyber-security, and with the attacks increasing they are probably the most vulnerable of the advanced nations (although not the most targeted, yet). Get these guys on the payroll right away, seeing them also through their education, as a defence.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Hey, I could do those! Please direct all job inquiries here, lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those people saying give that kid a job do not understand how easy it is to do this. There are kits you can DL to do this and you can pay a bot master to distribute your kit on a large scale. This kid tried to do the distribution on his own, that is why only 100 infections were recorded not 100,000 plus. The real problem is how insecure the Microsoft operating system really is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is a film called "catch me if you can" this film was based on a true story, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch_Me_If_You_Can.

I would uterlise this kids talent as he seems to be showing great potential at an early age.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The student has told investigators he wanted to become famous

He did that by being the first "arrested for creating ransomware; 1st such arrest in Japan"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All of you who are on this kid's side, ask yourself: if he had gone on to use the ransomware to shut down hospitals across Japan would you still feel the same way? Don't be so quick to pass positive judgment on him just because of his age.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All of you who are on this kid's side... Don't be so quick to pass positive judgment on him just because of his age.

What do you suggest should happen to him?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, I wish I had his ability. Computer science is the way to go if you want money these days.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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