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06 Mar 2006

Police secrets leaked by computer virus

Leaked data included names of sex crime victims

Malware can leak sensitive information to other internet users
Malware can leak sensitive information to other internet users.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus and spam analysis centers, have reminded internet users of the importance of computer security after media reports revealed that sensitive police information has been leaked onto the internet from a virus-infected computer.

According to the Japanese press, information about 1500 individuals, related to police investigations over a three year period, was leaked from a virus-infected computer belonging to an Okayama Police investigator. The data is said to have been distributed to users of the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing system. Winny is the most popular file-sharing network in Japan, with over a quarter of a million users.

According to the report, the leak occurred because the policeman was storing data about investigations on his personal computer. The PC was infected with an unnamed computer virus which is said to have enabled Winny users across Japan to access the sensitive information. The exposed data included the names of sex crime victims.

"It's bad enough when an individual has data stolen from them by a virus, but a police force being the victim is a real cause for concern," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "This incident acts as a timely reminder that all organizations need to take computer security seriously. If you allow your employees to put sensitive company data onto their own home computers, you are running the risk that they will not be as well defended as the PCs within your business."

Sophos recommends companies protect their email gateways, desktops and servers with an automatically updated consolidated solution to defend against the threats of viruses, spyware and spam.

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.