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The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that five people were recently arrested on suspicion of stealing more than 10 million pieces of personal information from victims' smartphone address book using malware.
"The Metropolitan Police Department said about 90,000 people's smartphones were infected with a virus lurking in applications they downloaded," the article states. "According to the MPD, this is the first case established to deal with such a large information theft in Japan. Investigative sources said a man who runs an IT-related company allegedly created video applications for Android smartphones containing a virus that extracts personal information stored on the phone."
"Then, with the aid of a former president of a Tokyo-based IT firm, he uploaded his creations to Google Play where it was downloaded 270,000 times," writes Softpedia's Eduard Kovacs.
"The free apps were marketed to customers by affixing the phrase 'The Movie' to existing popular game titles," writes The Hacker News' Mohit Kumar. "When the apps are downloaded and activated, they can automatically transmit personal data. The stolen information found on the server has not been used by the malware developers but the police is investigating the motive of the crime. Violators face up to three years in prison or fines of up to 500,000 yen."
"Cases of malicious smartphone apps being distributed are not new in the country," notes ZDNet's Ellyne Phnheah. "In June, the Japanese police arrested six men for distributing a virus-infected application which similarly targeted people using Android devices, and swindled some 21 million yen (US$265,062) from them."