Tech 13 June 2018Dennis Wafula
Coinhive at center of cryptojacking probe in Japan
Criminals in cryptocurrency mining pools struck again, this time preying on unsuspecting computer owners in Japan. According to reports, police in Japan are investigating a cryptojacking case that involves Coinhive. So far, three suspects have been arrested.
According to local reports, police discovered the suspects had set up websites that installed Coinhive, a Monero mining software, on visitors’ computers without the owner’s knowledge. Investigators said most of the computer owners did not notice the change until their computers started acting up.
One of the three suspects is a web designer, who authorities said has been ordered by the Yokohama Summary Court to pay a fine of JPY100,000 (US$904) for illegal placement of the computer virus. The group reportedly set up the virus in 2017. According to Japanese laws, citizens are banned from using computer viruses, especially installing them on peoples’ computers without their consent. One of the defendants, however, told the court that the software not a virus but a method of traffic monetization similar to online ad distribution. The three individuals are waiting to go to trial at the Yokohama District Court
According to officials handling the matter, the case might be pursued criminally making it the first criminal case involving cryptocurrency mining in Japan.
Created in 2017, Coinhive targeted many unsuspecting computer owners and used their CPU power and electricity to mine Monero. It mostly targeted unsuspecting visitors of government websites, YouTube and university websites. Software security firm Check Point described Coinhive as the “most wanted malware” in the world.
Installing malicious malware also dubbed as cryptojacking has affected 55 percent of business all around the world. Due to the high cost of cryptocurrencies mining, some miners have focused on illegal ways such as installing software on users’ computers to gain access to their processing power and electricity.
Last week, officials of the county of Khabarovsk, Russia, noticed cryptojacking activities on the county government’s website. According to reports, miners hacked the system to gain access to users processing power. Users were redirected to a malicious website, which, in turn, launched mining software on their computers without their knowledge. This operation went on for 10 days unnoticed before authorities finally caught up with them and shut down the malicious operation.
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