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Japanese cops arrest their first ransomware-slinging menace – er, a 14-year-old school boy

Bet his mum's going to be livid

By Iain Thomson, 6 Jun 2017

Japanese cops have, for the first time ever, arrested a ransomware maker – a teenage tearaway.

The 14-year-old from Osaka Prefecture in western Japan was collared on June 5 after police tracked him down as the suspected creator of home-grown ransomware that was being spammed out on social media and hosted on an overseas website.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the teen said he created the malware using publicly available encryption source code to test his skills as a programmer. He estimated that about 100 people had downloaded the file-scrambling software nasty, we're told.

"I tested my skills, and I could make one," the suspected pint-sized malware crafter told police. It's not known if any of the victims paid up the "fine" his code apparently demanded to unscramble their documents, or if they just decided to restore from backups, or if the thing even worked. Police are still investigating.

Teens playing around with software nasties, either creating them from scratch or customizing pre-built malware, has been going on for decades. There's a reason why the term script kiddie exists. For example, British teen Adam Mudd is doing time for creating the Titanium Stresser malware when he was 15 and selling it on to skiddies. In the US, Austin Alcala was 16 when he and others hacked their way into Microsoft, Valve and Epic to get the latest game software.

But with the recent WannaCry debacle, police around the world are now looking more closely at ransomware and its authors. Expect more arrests soon. ®

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