A hacker, or possibly group, that’s issued terrorists threats using remotely controlled computers in Japan remains at large despite a rare 3 million yen bounty and continuous games with media and police.
The latest antic to generate considerable attention this week was leading Japanese authorities on a wild goose — actually, cat — chase starting around New Year’s Day. Police on Monday finally captured a cat wandering a Tokyo island and carrying a memory card in its collar said to contain the “remote control virus” used to send threats throughout 2012. The contents of the card have yet to be announced, but a Symantec researcher months ago analyzed the malware in question and found nothing remarkable, other than it being partially written in Japanese.
Police tried for months to find the author[s] of messages in online public forums and e-mails to media outlets threatening to commit mass murder in a popular Osaka shopping center, blow up a shrine in Mia province, bomb a passenger jet and attack a school attended by members of the royal family.
In October, the Japanese National Policy Authority arrested four men whom they said had “extracted confessions” to the sending the threats, only to see the ominous emails and messages continue while they were in custody. Investigators later determined the suspects’ computers had been compromised by the “iesys.exe” virus to send the threats.
Two months later, in December, the NPA issued its first bounty — $34,000 in U.S. dollars — for anyone with information that led to the arrest of the person or people behind the bomb threats. The search has been narrowed to someone who knows the C# programming language and can move online without detection. In other words, it’s not much in the way of unique clues.
The chase began again in earnest last week when the hacker announced a “new game” and sent a series of riddles that said the code used to commit the threats remotely was attached to a cat’s collar somewhere in a remote part of Tokyo.