Japanese police probe suspected cryptojacking cases

June 13, 2018
Chris Wheal

Police in Japan are investigating individuals that they believe illegally used Monero-mining software in what would – if prosecutions follow – be the country’s first case of cryptojacking.

Coinhive software is alleged to have been used to illegally mine Monero tokens: Shutterstock

Reported in local media outlet Mainichi late on Tuesday, police are probing whether a number of unnamed individuals set up fake websites that automatically installed the Coinhive crypto-mining software on visitors’ computers, forcing them to mine cryptocurrencies without their knowledge.

Computer virus laws

While there is no specific law against cryptojacking, the alleged suspects would likely be charged under laws that prohibit the use of computer viruses.

The incidents are being investigated by police in several Japanese prefectures, including Kanagawa, Chiba and Tochigi.

According to Mainichi’s sources, the alleged suspects set up websites in autumn 2017 to illegally install the mining software on visitors’ computers and use their machines for mining the monero cryptocurrency.

Three cases probed

Police are reported to have investigated three individuals so far, with one already ordered by the Yokohama Summary Court to pay Y100,000 (about £680) for illegally storing a computer virus.

Earlier this week, Apple banned cryptocurrency mining apps on its mobile devices, including the advertising of mining apps, over concerns iPad and iPhone users could be duped into using potentially damaging mining software.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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