Japanese cybercrime hits record levels

Finjan, a provider of secure web gateway products, has stated that 2008 cybercrime figures from Japan, details of which have just been published and show a 15.5% year on year annual growth, do not bode well for e-crime in Western nations.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan’s chief technology officer, claimed: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that the volume and value of cybercrime has soared again in 2008 and, with the current economic recession, we fully expect the number of Internet scams, hacks and malware-driven infections to increase even faster in 2009.”

This prediction, said Ben-Itzhak, was exemplified recently when the Japlog.jp Web site, rated 41 in Japan and 382 worldwide by Alexa, was comprehensively hacked and, using a combination of obfuscated and ActiveX code, ended up infecting visitors with malware.

Within days of Japlog.jp being compromised, Ben-Itzhak added, the even more popular Livedoor.jp Web site, rated six in Japan and 70 worldwide by Alexa, was also compromised by cybercriminals.

“As our Malicious Code Research Centre team said after they had spotted the attacks, whilst the technique used on the Japlog.jp Web portal is a popular one amongst hackers, we cannot ignore the fact that two very popular sites have been infected in such a short period of time,” he noted.

“As a result, companies, well as consumers, need to take extreme care to protect their staff, customer lists and financial data against cybercriminals. The Japanese figures, which cover Internet-linked cases of fraud, illegal access, libel and threats, show that the incidence of cybercrime tripled between 2004 and 2008,” Ben-Itzhak said.

He continued: “Delving into the figures reveals that, whilst cases of threats and illegal access increased by 90% and 20% respectively between 2007 and 2008, fraud dipped slightly by 0.3%.”

Extrapolating these figures to European and North American markets is difficult, he said, as there are no directly correlating figures. However, the fact that cybercrime is clearly on the increase in the Japanese market, a society which is big on personal morality, does not bode well for Western e-crime.

According to Ben-Itzhak, if you look at the most recent FBI Internet Crime Complaint Centre statistics, which is the closest equivalent to the Japanese figures, the FBI said it received 207,000 complaints relating to almost $240 million of e-crimes perpetrated over the Internet in 2007.

This was, he says, the latest year for which data is available, but represented an increase of 20% on 2006.