With the threat of Internet fraud and online banking theft rising, Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) and investigative sources revealed that at least 16,000 computers in Japan may be infected with a virus used in a series of online bank fraud in the past few years, where the said malicious code stole user IDs and passwords from the computers it infected. The NPA said that the number of unauthorized money transfer cases was at around 600 from 2011 through July this year. Investigators now suspect that that there is a single group that may be behind around 400 of that total reported this year.
“It is possible that the number of cases will increase,” an NPA official said. The virus, which has been spreading to different terminals through the Internet since early this year, is programmed even to steal those one-time passwords issued by financial and banking institutions in single transactions. Computers can easily be infected through certain dummy or unsecure websites that the users happen to browse through. Most people just click through prompts to get to the content they are looking for, and most of them may not even be aware that they have installed a virus, according to investigators. With the help of a security software company, police authorities have analyzed the code of the virus and found that the stolen IDs and passwords were sent to multiple servers located in the United States and Europe.
The police authorities have also identified computers which are possibly infected by the virus by looking at access records left in some of these servers, sources revealed said. With this information, the NPA has informed internet service providers regarding IP addresses of possibly affected terminals, asking them to notify the users of the threat of virus infection and to remove the virus. With viruses like these on the rise, perpetrators will be using IDs and passwords aggregated in their servers to unlawfully access online bank services, being able to send money to whichever bank account they choose.