Intellectual theft emails on the rise

Kyodo

The National Police Agency warned businesses Thursday that emailed computer viruses are being used in efforts to steal information after the targeted firms engaged in extensive email communications with the perpetrators, reporting 33 such cases in the first half of this year.

The figure represents a huge jump from just two cases last year. Although no successful attempts have so far been confirmed, the agency is warning of the more sophisticated approach to intellectual theft after analyzing information from about 5,000 companies and research institutions that joined a network against cyberattacks.

The key targets are firms and research bodies connected with the defense, aerospace and nuclear power industries, the NPA said. As a countermeasure, the NPA is calling for separating computers for receiving emails from the general public from business-use networks.

Including other approaches, the cases in which targeted emails were sent with viruses designed to capture sensitive information came down to 201 in the reporting half year by 351 from the same period last year, it said. In the new approach, emails were sent to addresses published on company websites in about 80 percent of the cases, containing questions about recruitment in 18 cases, and inquiries about products in nine.

In one case, the sender of an email asked if the address was relevant as the contact for recruitment, later sending a virus-attached email with a message stating that the attachment was a resume, after exchanges with the company official in charge.