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05 Apr 2004

Police blame virus for publishing "wanted list" on internet, Sophos reports

Sensitive data leaked from police officer's personal laptop

Does your company allow you to do business work on your personal computer? If so, ensure it is properly protected
Does your company allow you to do business work on your personal computer? If so, ensure it is properly protected.

The police force in Kyoto, Japan, have suggested that a virus might be responsible for sensitive information regarding criminal investigations being leaked onto the internet.

A total of 19 documents, including investigation reports and a list of "wanted" suspects, prepared by a police officer on his private laptop computer have appeared on internet peer-to-peer file-sharing systems.

The officer, based at the Shimogamo Police Station in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, mentioned twenty individuals in the documents - at least 11 of which were names of actual persons according to police. According to one report, the officer entered into the documents detailed descriptions of the crimes, alongside the names, addresses, birthdays and other personal data of people believed to be involved.

"The police authorities in Japan have claimed that the sensitive files have been accidentally leaked onto the internet via file-sharing software or a virus," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The police force will regret giving permission for this officer to use his personal computer for this kind of work. All computers used for business should be properly secured to avoid 'data leakage', and there should be strict policies regarding whether internet file-sharing should be acceptable on a work computer."

Kyoto police, who only found out about the incident when their public relations department was informed, have said they have a policy of prohibiting officers from saving information that they learn in the line of their duty to the hard drives of their personal computers. The officer concerned is being questioned about the alleged violation.

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