Japanese police make first computer virus-related arrest

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Japanese police make first computer virus-related arrest February 23, 2000 Web posted at: 12:01 PM EST (1701 GMT)

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese police on Wednesday arrested a man suspected of sending computer viruses to a software retailer in an attempt to jam the company's business and avoid paying a bill.

The arrest of the 19-year-old unemployed man was Japan's first involving the transmission of computer viruses to obstruct a company's operations, police said. The suspect, who was not identified because he is a minor, sent 659 virus-infected files by e-mail in November and caused the company's computer system to shut down, police said.

Japanese media reports identified the company as Softbank Technologies, an affiliate of Softbank Corp., but police said they have not released the name of the firm. A spokeswoman for Softbank Technologies declined to comment.

The suspect allegedly bought about 160,000 yen (dlrs 1,440) worth of software through the company's Internet home page and thought he could avoid paying by throwing its business into disorder, the police spokesman said. The company had contacted the suspect several times to get him to pay.

The suspect identified himself in the virus-infested e-mail as "The Victims' Relief Society." The viruses inflicted no damage but caused the company's computer system to shut down by activating its virus detection system.

The arrest comes amid alarm about a rise in virus attacks in Japan.

The government's Information Technology Promotion Agency said Wednesday that cases of viruses sent to computers in Japan rose from 14 in 1989 to 3,645 last year.

Last month, hackers broke into several government agency Web sites and posted messages accusing Japan of denying its militaristic past.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 23, 2000

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