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14 Sep 2005

Japanese phisher walks free from court, Sophos comments on conviction

Laptop user
Phishers prey on innocent web users, stealing their confidential login details and passwords.

A man who created a bogus website, posing as Yahoo Japan, and stole personal information from users of the nation's largest internet portal, has received a 22 month prison sentence, suspended for four years - meaning he will walk free.

42-year-old Kazuma Yabuno created the fake website in February 2005, and obtained the account names and passwords of Yahoo members in order to gain illegal access to their private email.

Yabuno, a former computer systems engineer, was sentenced by Judge Mitsuaki Takayama who said that the sentencing took into account that "[Yabuno] did not use the stolen information to commit other crimes."

"This case is significant, because it is the first time a phisher has been convicted in Japan," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Some will raise eyebrows at the leniency of the sentence as the middle-aged culprit has effectively got away with it. One wonders if he had broken into hundreds of houses, and not stolen any belongings, whether he would have escaped with a slap on the wrist. Courts around the world need to be more consistent in how they punish phishers, scammers, virus writers and hackers."

Sophos has published best practice tips to advise individuals on how to avoid being phished.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.