Death Threats From Hacker Lead To Prison Sentence

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

A hacker who made a number of death threats in Japan has been jailed in a case that captured the nation

A computer hacker has been jailed for eight years in Japan, after he led authorities on a cat and mouse game that transfixed the Japanese public.

Yusuke Katayama, 32, reportedly hijacked innocent people’s computers in 2012 using a virus, and used those computers to issue death threats. He threatened to kill people at a comic book event, attack an airplace, and even to attack a school attended by the grandchildren of Japan’s Emperor Akihito.

Cat And Mouse

Former IT engineer Katayama also managed to fool the Japanese police on a number of occasions to arrest the wrong people. His public death threats and a series of riddles to authorities meant that that he caught the attention of the national media in Japan.

The National Police Agency (NPA) even managed to extract confessions from two of the wrongly arrested people.

Young man in handcuffs - copyright FotoliaBut the media and a cyber crime expert received anonymous messages containing information that investigators admitted could only have been known by the real culprit. Thus the police realised they had arrested and got confessions from the wrong people.

The NPA’s chief appologised and promised to improve the cyber crime division.

“He committed the crime, and the purpose of it was [for police] to make wrongful arrests,” presiding judge Katsunori Ohno at Tokyo District Court was quoted by the BBC as saying. The judge added that Katayama’s actions had been “vicious”.

Katayama went by the name of “Demon Killer”, and apparently taunted the police on a number of occasions, and send them all over Japan chasing clues. But in the end, Katayama’s cat and mouse game with the authorities was ended by an actual cat.

This was because of Katayama’s clues was when he told authorities to go to an island called Enoshima (near Tokyo), and look for a particular cat that was wearing a collar. On that collar, was a memory card that held the details of the virus he used to gain remote control of his victim’s computers.

The police found the cat, but then in a twist examined nearby CCTV footage, and discovered Katayama with the animal.

Katayama was then arrested in February 2013.

Hacker Arrests

It should be noted that authorities are having some success against high-profile hackers.

Last month a man linked to the Lizard Squad hacking group that targeted the Xbox and PS3 networks on Christmas day was arrested.

And last year, a hacker known as Farid ‘Diabl0’ Essebar, one of the creators of the Zotob worm, was arrested by Thai authorities in Bangkok. He had evaded the authorities for three years, and was accused of causing $4 billion worth of damage

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