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
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 the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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
 

Recommended Reading:

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.
NSA Appoints Rob Joyce as Cyber Director
Dark Reading Staff 1/15/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-8567
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes Secrets Store CSI Driver Vault Plugin prior to v0.0.6, Azure Plugin prior to v0.0.10, and GCP Plugin prior to v0.2.0 allow an attacker who can create specially-crafted SecretProviderClass objects to write to arbitrary file paths on the host filesystem, including /var/lib/kubelet/pods.
CVE-2020-8568
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes Secrets Store CSI Driver versions v0.0.15 and v0.0.16 allow an attacker who can modify a SecretProviderClassPodStatus/Status resource the ability to write content to the host filesystem and sync file contents to Kubernetes Secrets. This includes paths under var/lib/kubelet/pods that conta...
CVE-2020-8569
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes CSI snapshot-controller prior to v2.1.3 and v3.0.2 could panic when processing a VolumeSnapshot custom resource when: - The VolumeSnapshot referenced a non-existing PersistentVolumeClaim and the VolumeSnapshot did not reference any VolumeSnapshotClass. - The snapshot-controller crashes, ...
CVE-2020-8570
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes Java client libraries in version 10.0.0 and versions prior to 9.0.1 allow writes to paths outside of the current directory when copying multiple files from a remote pod which sends a maliciously crafted archive. This can potentially overwrite any files on the system of the process executi...
CVE-2020-8554
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-21
Kubernetes API server in all versions allow an attacker who is able to create a ClusterIP service and set the spec.externalIPs field, to intercept traffic to that IP address. Additionally, an attacker who is able to patch the status (which is considered a privileged operation and should not typicall...