Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

10/13/2015
01:00 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Japan's Cybercrime Underground On The Rise

New report sheds light on stealthy cybercrime operations in Japan.

When you think cybercrime, Japan probably isn't top of mind. But like anywhere else, the bad guys there are following the money, and an emerging yet highly stealthy underground economy is growing in Japan.

Researchers at Trend Micro's Forward Looking Threat Research team studied the inner workings of Japan's cybercrime activity, and found some interesting characteristics. Japan is still a newbie here, and the bad guys have a higher bar to clear given the nation's strict criminal laws. So Japan's cybercriminals don't write their own malware due to the tight legal environment against such activity there; they instead buy malware from their counterparts in other nations.

Cybercrime operations there include the illegal buying and selling of counterfeit passports, phone number databases, stolen credit card credentials, hacking advice, child pornography, drugs, and guns  -- all via secured bulletin boards that carefully vet visitors, employ Japanese-language CAPTCHAs, virtual PO boxes, secret jargon, and accept payment mainly via Amazon gift cards or Sony PlayStation Store codes.

"They're building a greater foundation for guilds of thieves in Japan," says Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer for Trend Micro. These cybercrime forums operate under heavier security than do many of their counterparts in other nations, he says.

"Other [nations' cybercriminals] are starting to retrofit operational security. You're seeing them [Japanese cybercriminals] build it from the ground up," Kellermann says. "Their number one focus is stealth, remaining covert in their operations and obfuscating their activities."

Trend Micro researchers found a Japanese BBS called Tor 2 Channel that came with a fake homepage emblazoned with a warning that it had been seized by the FBI, Europol, and the US Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But clicking on one of the national flag icons on that page led to actual BBS sites, the researchers discovered.

Japan's cybercrime operations mainly target Japanese citizens. But their interest in banking malware, ransomware and DDoS tools would indicate their targets could go global, Kellermann says.

Reports of cybercrime in Japan are on the rise: as of March 2015, the number of reports of possible online crime have increased 40% over the previous year, according to data from Japan's National Police Agency. Online bank fraud has resulted in losses of $24 million in 2014, and the cost of online fraud to Japanese banks was $13 million in the first half of this year. Pilfered banking credentials were the likely culprit, Japanese officials say.

"For a country that has a relatively high Internet penetration rate of 86% off a base population of nearly 127 million, a 40% increase is a big deal," Trend Micro wrote of Japan's increase in cybercrime.

In a high-profile hack in June of this year, Japan's Pension Service was hit with a data breach exposing more than one million users' names, ID numbers, birthdates, and physical addresses.

Trend Micro's own data found that Japan was second to the US in nations hit by online banking malware last year. In the second quarter of this year, Japan was the number one nation hit by the Angler exploit kit, according to Trend's data.

Meanwhile, two-factor authentication and chip-and-PIN cards are mandated in Japan, Kellermann notes. "The fact that Japan is experiencing the second largest crime wave is more than likely under-reported," he says of the data.

"They are years ahead of us [the US] in mobile payments," he says.

Japanese cybercriminals typically use watering hole or other secondary infection methods to plant malware on their victims' machines, according to Trend.

Kellermann says he expects Japanese cybercriminals will ultimately write their own malware. "There's far too much talent" for them to not create their own tools, he says. "This is in line with the cultural manifestation of a lot of people in a society disaffected with the government."

 

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
10/13/2015 | 7:44:23 AM
Pornography involvement?
I wonder, as the article alludes, whether Japan has a lot of links with underground pornography, due to its bizarre laws with regards to genital depictions. The relatively recent overhaul of underage pornography laws too, must be creating a strange environment for those that trade in it.
Florida Town Pays $600K to Ransomware Operators
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/20/2019
Pledges to Not Pay Ransomware Hit Reality
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  6/21/2019
AWS CISO Talks Risk Reduction, Development, Recruitment
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/25/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-1619
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to bypass authentication and execute arbitrary actions with administrative privileges on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to improper session ...
CVE-2019-1620
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to upload arbitrary files on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to incorrect permission settings in affected DCNM software. An attacker could ex...
CVE-2019-1621
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to gain access to sensitive files on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to incorrect permissions settings on affected DCNM software. An attacker...
CVE-2019-1622
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to retrieve sensitive information from an affected device. The vulnerability is due to improper access controls for certain URLs on affected DCNM software...
CVE-2019-10133
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before 3.7, 3.6.4, 3.5.6, 3.4.9 and 3.1.18. The form to upload cohorts contained a redirect field, which was not restricted to internal URLs.