14-year-old Japanese teenager arrested for developing ransomware similar to WannaCry
Japan police arrests a 14-year-old for creating ransomware
While the computers affected by the WannaCry ransonware around the world last month are still trying to return to normalcy, a 14 year-old teenager from Japan in the meanwhile was arrested on Monday for developing a malware similar to the WannaCry malware.
For those unfamiliar, WannaCry ransomware exploited a weakness in Microsoft’s Windows operating system and went on to infect more than 3,00,000 computers in 150 countries within 72 hours last month. The WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm encrypted data and demanded payment in virtual currency Bitcoin in exchange for a password to unlock data.
The 14-year-old boy, who is a secondary school student in Osaka Prefecture, is accused of creating a malware designed to infect and encrypt computers to financially exploit victims. The malware in question has been uploaded by the teenager on a foreign website that included instructions and procedures for the users to download, install and use it, according to sources quoted by the Kyodo news agency.
The student living in the city of Takatsuki admitted to the allegations said that he wanted to test his ability as a programmer. He supposedly went on to learn and create the ransomware all by himself.
“I tested my skills, and I could make one,” he was quoted as saying to police.
He also said that he had participated in a computer skills class on how to assemble a personal computer while he was in elementary school, according to the sources. He collected all the necessary data from overseas websites to create the ransomware on his home computer in January, which took him about three days to complete it.
This ransomware, which has been downloaded more than 100 times, allowed a user to infect the victim’s computer, demanding in Japanese that a payment be made in digital currency. Apparently, the malicious malware created by the teenager has infected computers of about 100 users, who have been demanded a payoff, in the form of virtual currency. However, there have been no reports of financial exploitation.
The young boy, whose identity has not yet been revealed, also reportedly used social media to lure users into downloading the program for free.
The malware was discovered by the Kanagawa Prefectural Police during ‘cyber patrolling’ duties in January, who confiscated the teen’s computer during a house search in April, reports The Japan Times. The young boy revealed to the investigating authorities that he created the ransomware “out of curiosity” and because he wanted to “become famous.”
The users who downloaded the malware could also be charged with violating the law on “acquiring electromagnetic records by illegal command,” said the sources. This is the first arrest involving a ransomware-related crime in Japan, said police.
According to Trend Micro Inc., a major IT security provider, ransomware was found on more than 65,000 computers in Japan in 2016 alone, which is around 10 times more than the previous year.
The author Kavita Iyer
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