On December 24, it was reported that Chinese hackers broke into Japanese bank accounts and stole more than $16 million in six months. The two banks that suffered the most were Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.
Japanese police managed to do little to eradicate online crimes and only 133 were arrested for these crimes; mostly low rank hackers or people which were used as a tool in the cyber attack. According to the Director of the Criminal Investigation Agency, cyber police is witnessing profound Chinese involvement in these online theft, including among the detainees who often are not aware that they were used for crimes.
A police representative said that penetration is often concerning banks accounts via phishing scams or other types, aimed at opening malware and thus permitting the Chinese groups to access the bank accounts. After the break-in, funds from the account are transferred to other accounts in Japan which will then be used to withdraw cash from ATM machines. The cash is then transferred to accomplices in Japan who use it to purchase Chinese Goods online, and money is sent to China. The “profits” are transferred to the leaders of the gangs. The Police arrested a few people connected to this network, among them, a 22 year old Chinese college student studying in Japan, which had withdrew a lot of money from ATM devices in Kyoto. He was following the instructions from China via the application QQ Messenger.
Banks themselves cannot do anything except warn their customers and compensate the victims. Some argue that Japan is a convenient target for Chinese criminal elements because of its proximity and its wealth, but also due to its lack of experience in dealing with cyber-crime, “residents and Japanese companies are not sophisticated enough when they deal with computer’s protection.” The online banking customers in Japan are shown regularly strong warning messages concerning phishing and fake bank email addresses, but banks are arguing that these warnings are regularly ignored by the customers.