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Cybercrime reports hit record in first half in Japan

Digital currency thefts total $542,000 in January to June

  © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese police received a record number of reported cybercrimes in the first six months of 2017, while there were also reports of illicit money transfers in which digital money was stolen through hacking.

The National Police Agency said it received 69,977 reports of cybercrimes in the January-June period, up 4.9% from a year earlier and the highest number since comparable data became available.

A total of 23 incidents involving the theft of bitcoin and other digital currencies were reported to the police, resulting in losses estimated at 59.2 million yen ($542,000).

There were 13 cases involving bitcoin hacks, 11 cases involving Ripple and 2 cases involving Ethereum. There was also an incident in which several digital currencies were attacked at the same time. Cryptocurrency thefts were reported in 13 prefectures.

In the first six months of the year, 36,729 cases of internet frauds and scams were logged, accounting for more than half of all cybercrimes reported to the National Police Agency. Reports of unauthorized computer access and computer virus attacks surged to 6,848 cases, up more than 50% from a year earlier.

Unauthorized computer access incidents remained high. The agency detected an average 2,008 hacks per day during the period. That was a decline from the record number of cyberintrusions in the second half of 2016 -- at 2,259 -- but it was still up about 80% from the 1,119 daily occurrences recorded in the first half of 2016.

There have also been reports of viruses targeting devices using internet of things technology. An official with the agency said financial losses could swell as the number of users rises, adding that it is important to take precautions, such as managing passwords and regularly upgrading virus software.

The police uncovered 4,209 cybercrimes from January to June, down 71 from a year earlier. There were 214 cases of illegal money transfers using internet banking, a decline of 645 cases from a year before. The value of financial losses also dropped by about 333 million yen on the year to about 564 million yen.


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