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'Ransomware' Targets Japanese Porn Site Users

A Japanese cyber gang has come up with a way to extort money off those who pirate adult games: Pay up, or you will be embarrassed online.

According to Computerworld, this type of scam is a new one in the world of “ransomware”–the practice of holding hostage a computer system or the data it contains, and then extorting money from its rightful owner.

Trend Micro researchers in Japan and the U.K. analyzed the attack and found the cyber criminals planted a Trojan onto a Japanese file-sharing service. The malware posed as installers for adult games in the pornographic Hentai genre.

The installer asked personal questions, including name, date of birth and game passwords, as well as collected information from the computer such as screenshots of Internet Explorer’s bookmarks. The information was later posted to a website used by criminals to extort 1,500 yen (roughly $16) from victims by promising to remove the potentially embarrassing content.

Victims received an email from a company called Romancing Inc., which claimed they were infringing on copyrights. For a fee, Romancing Inc. would remove that information and resolve the copyright infringement.

According to Japanese media reports, 5,500 people in the Nagasaki area alone admitted to downloading the malicious file, Computerworld reports.

The hackers also built in a second extortion attempt by adding three MP3 files to victims’ computers. Those files were offered for sale on another site for as much as 58 million yen, or $630,000.

“You can’t listen to those files,” Rik Ferguson, a senior security researcher with Trend Micro’s U.K. office, told Computerworld. “The second extortion attempt would claim, ‘Look, you downloaded these files too, and look how expensive they are.'”

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