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Sophos: First Virus writer arrester arrested in Japan... for breaching

January 2008 by Marc Jacob

IT security and control firm Sophos is reminding businesses of the importance of defending their networks from malware attack, following the first ever arrest by Japanese authorities of a virus writer.

Police in Kyoto have arrested three men, who are said to have been involved in a plot to infect users of the P2P file-sharing network Winny with a Trojan horse that displayed images of popular anime characters while wiping MP3 and movie files. The malware, which has been dubbed Harada in media reports, is believed to be related to the Pirlames Trojan horse which Sophos reported intercepting in Japan last year.

According to Japanese media reports, the three men have admitted their involvement in the crime. One of the men is said to have written the malware, while the other two are believed to have distributed the malicious code via Winny.

"It isn’t illegal to write viruses in Japan, so the author of the Trojan horse has been arrested for breaching copyright because he used cartoon graphics without permission in his malware. Because this is the first arrest in Japan of a virus writer, it’s likely to generate a lot of attention and there may be calls for cybercrime laws to be made tighter," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Malware is truly a global menace, impacting on every user of the internet, and it is good to see police around the world doing their bit to tackle the problem."

Isamu Kaneko, the author of the Winny file-sharing program, was fined by a Japanese court in December 2006 for assisting in copyright violation. The rights and wrongs of the case have been widely debated on the internet.

A survey conducted in 2006 by Sophos reflected the serious concern that uncontrolled applications are causing system administrators. For example, 86.5 percent of respondents said they want the opportunity to block P2P applications, with 79 percent indicating that blocking is essential.

"Businesses are increasingly looking to control users’ access to P2P file-sharing software not just because they can eat up bandwidth or infringe copyright laws, but also because they can present a security risk to corporate data," continued Cluley. "This music and movie-munching Trojan horse is a timely reminder of the danger malware can pose to a company’s network."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses. In addition, Application Control, an optional feature of Sophos Endpoint Security and Control, available to both new and existing customers at no additional charge, allows system administrators to set a policy as to which applications users are allowed to run.


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