16 individuals aged between 18 and 48 were arrested by the Japanese police for cryptojacking as reported in the local publication Asahi Shimbun on June 15. The suspects had allegedly installed malware program on their victims’ computers in order to mine cryptocurrency without their permission. It was reported that they used Coinhive, which mines Monero, a private cryptocurrency.
Cryptojacking is the process of installing malware to someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurency without the user’s consent. This can be done by sending malicious links to e-mails or by placing infected online ads on particular websites. This will work once the user clicked the infected links.
Coinhive can be accessed online. However, not all of the 16 suspects used Coinhive in the alleged cryptojacking activity. One of the suspects has developed a program which works like Coinhive and spread it on users’ computers. Aside from suspected cryptojacking, he was arrested because of the alleged computer malware development.
In using Coinhive for cryptomining, 70 percent of the earnings will go to the website operators, while the rest of the earnings will be kept by Coinhive.
Among the 16 suspects, the biggest amount earned in the said cryptojacking is about 120,000 yen or $1,100.
Many websites have been affected by this cryptojacking activity. Those websites with weak securities became easy targets for the cryptojackers.
From the onset, many have expressed their concerns regarding the Coinhive program because it could be installed on the user’s computer without his/her knowledge. Several software companies considered it as a virus. Thus, leading anti-virus firms have already made a move to block the Coinhive program installation to protect computer users from possible cryptojacking incidents.
Law enforcers are doing their best to come up with possible means to prevent these kinds of threats. Japanese police has strengthened their measures on cryptojacking issues. Last week, an investigation was conducted to three cryptojacking suspects who allegedly used Coinhive to spread malware in multiple websites.
Hisashi Sonada, a Konan Law School professor who specializes in cyber crimes comments that the arrests were likely made because the activity was done without the site users’ permission. He furthered that the immediate arrests may have been excessive since there are no legal precedents in place on how to handle such cases.