• Staff Report, Kyodo

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The websites of six Japanese universities were targeted in cyberattacks on Monday, prompting experts to warn that other academic institutions and companies should be on alert, NHK reported.

The computer networks of Ehime University, the University of Yamanashi, Fukuoka University, Setsunan University in Osaka, Meijo University in Nagoya and Bunka Gakuen University in Tokyo all came under attack, the broadcaster said Tuesday.

The attacks came on the same day police said Seven Bank, a member of the retail giant Seven & I Holdings Co. group, had been hit by distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks.

SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. also suffered a seemingly short-lived attack that disrupted access to its Web services a few days earlier, investigative and company sources said Monday. A DDoS attack is also suspected in that case, rather than a system glitch.

No private data were apparently leaked in either cases, according to the sources. Seven Bank, which offers ATM banking services at 7-Eleven convenience stores and other outlets in Japan, has since filed a report with the Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo.

Tokyo police and other sources said Seven Bank was told to make a payment in bitcoins, a virtual currency, if the bank wanted the attack to stop. The demand was made after access to the bank’s online banking service was impeded for around 1 hour and 45 minutes on the morning of June 25.

The types of cyberattacks against the universities weren’t immediately clear.

Ehime University was quoted as saying that some 360 email addresses registered for the campus newsletter may have leaked, while Setsunan University probably lost identification numbers to administer its website.

Cybersecurity expert Motohiro Nakanishi of the Information-technology Promotion Agency told NHK the culprits may have discovered security weaknesses on these websites. He urged various companies and organizations to stay alert against the threat of such attacks.