Experts at SophosLabs™,
Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis
centers, have reminded businesses of the importance of protecting
their networks from virus attack, as a Japanese man admits in court
to writing a data-destroying Trojan horse.
24-year-old Masato Nakatsuji, who was revealed to be the first
ever virus writer to be arrested in Japan when he was apprehended in
January, admited in Kyoto District Court that he created a
Trojan horse and used copyrighted animation footage to spread it
via the net. Nakatsuji has admitted to having written the malware
which displayed images of popular anime characters while wiping
music and movie files from users' computers. The malicious code,
believed to be the Pirlames
Trojan, was spread via the controversial Winny file-sharing
system in Japan last year.
The Pirlames Trojan, which is believed to be
the malware related to the case, was distributed via Winny and
displayed cartoon images.
Nakatsuji made the admission during the first day of the trial,
where he answered charges of copyright infringement and defaming an
acquaintance by embedding his photograph into the malicious
The court in Kyoto heard prosecutors describe how Nakatsuji is
alleged to have created the Trojan horse, attached it to
copyrighted animated pictures and planted links to it on internet
message forums. However, Nakatsuji's defense team has argued that
the malware was not seriously malignant, and that justice would not
be served by punishing the graduate student of Osaka
Electro-Communication University for spreading the Trojan horse
when there were no specific laws against it.
"Al Capone was charged with tax evasion rather than
racketeering, and Masato Nakatsuji is being charged with copyright
infringement rather than for creating his movie and music-munching
malware," said Graham
Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If he is
found guilty, the general public are unlikely to worry that it was
his ill-advised choice of graphics which got him into legal trouble
rather than virus-writing. However, a clear message needs to be
sent to the computer underground that they will not be shown a
blind eye if they spread malicious code and damage innocent
people's computers and data."
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.
Sophos experts note that this is not the first time that the
Winny file-sharing network has been troubled by malware:
- In May 2006, Sophos reported
that a virus had leaked power plant secrets via Winny for the
second time in four months.
- The previous month, a Japanese anti-virus company admitted that internal
documents and customer information had been leaked after one of its
employees failed to install anti-virus software.
- Earlier in 2006, Sophos described
how information about Japanese sex victims was leaked by a virus
after a police investigator's computer had been infected.
- In June 2005, Sophos reported
that nuclear power plant secrets had been leaked from a computer
belonging to an employee of Mitsubishi Electric Plant
- The police force in Kyoto, Japan, were left with red faces
after a virus spread
information about their "most wanted" suspect list in April
Sophos recently published its Security
Threat Report 2008, which included information about recent
successes by the authorities in fighting cybercrime:
Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access
and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and