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26 Jan 2006

Spyware suspect arrested in Japan

Eye
The spyware stole users' internet banking passwords.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed the news that a suspected spyware developer has been arrested in Japan.

31-year-old Atsushi Takewaka is suspected of accessing victims' computers to steal internet banking passwords, which he used to illegally withdraw money from online accounts. Investigators claim that Takewaka, in conspiracy with 41-year-old Kiichi Hirayama, used spyware to steal the banking password of a jewelry retailer in Kawasaki, and stole 216,000 yen from the account.

Takekawa was quoted by authorities as saying that Hirayama asked him to develop the spyware program.

Police have accused the two men of using similar tactics to illegally withdraw about 11 million yen from nine accounts at Mizuho Bank, eBank Corp and Japan Net Bank, in July 2005.

According to police, Takekawa is alleged to have told them, "I created the spyware in about three months using a range of software. I wanted money to live on."

Hirayama is said by police to have also admitted attempting to steal money out of bank accounts by sending CD ROMs to firms that, when run on a PC, would install the spyware.

"Spyware which steals internet banking customers is on the increase, so it's essential that everyone ensures they have proper protection in place," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "It's encouraging to see computer crime fighters around the world having more success in catching the perpetrators, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Everyone needs up-to-date anti-virus protection, firewalls and security patches, and ensure they are acting securely when online."

Law enforcement agencies in Japan are continuing to investigate the case.

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.