• Kyodo

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A computer virus that steals customers’ credit card numbers and passwords by infecting point-of-sale systems used by cashiers at supermarkets and convenience stores has been detected for the first time in Japan.

Such viruses have spread worldwide. Some 353 cases were identified globally in the nine-month period starting in January, compared with just 22 last year, according to security software firm Trend Micro Inc. The United States recorded the most cases at 123. The number was also high in the Philippines and Taiwan.

Three cases were detected in Japan but the virus was removed before POS systems were infected. Experts warn that more cases will likely occur in the near future in Japan.

According to Trend Micro, perpetrators send an email to the personal computers of companies using the POS systems, and the virus is contained in files attached to the message. If the files are opened, the computers become infected.

The virus spreads through to POS systems via their connection to infected PCs. When customers use credit cards, the POS systems leak the card data, which are normally encrypted but not immediately after they are read by the POS systems.

At the end of last year, the POS system of U.S. retail giant Target was infected by a virus and data on about 40 million customers were stolen. Similar virus infections were detected at department stores and retailers of household goods.

“It is highly possible that Japan suffers from the virus spreading worldwide, so sufficient steps should be taken,” a Trend Micro official said.

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