Up to 200,000 personal computers in Japan may be infected with GameOver Zeus, a computer virus that opens a computer to hackers and enables them to steal banking ID and passwords, the National Police Agency said.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities estimate that between 100,000 and 200,000 computers in Japan have the virus, the agency said on Tuesday.
Law enforcement authorities, including the FBI and NPA, have started trying to identify the infected computers and help users remove malware that may lead to hackers stealing funds from their online bank account, the agency said.
Unknown to their owners, computers infected with GameOver Zeus become part of a botnet, a global network of computers used for cybercrime.
The United States says that between 500,000 and 1 million computers are infected with the virus globally. About 25 percent of them are located in the United States, followed by 20 percent in Japan.
On Friday, Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, and other investigative authorities from 12 countries, including Japan and the United States, launched a joint operation to target on global cybercrime.
An alleged Russian administrator of the GameOver Zeus network was placed on the FBI’s wanted list, and officials seized computer servers crucial to the distribution of ransom malware known as CrptoLocker.
Authorities are also working to disrupt the network and identify the IP addresses of infected computers.
The NPA is set to obtain a list of IP addresses of infected computers in Japan soon and will start contacting their users through Internet service providers to help them remove the virus using a set procedure.
More than ¥1.4 billion has been stolen from online bank accounts this year, the NPA says.