Japanese Poker Playing IT Chief Accused In Android Malware Bust

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Scam thought to have earned crooks millions of dollars

A president of a Japanese IT firm has been arrested following a police investigation into an Android malware campaign.

Masaaki Kagawa, the 50-year-old president of IT firm Koei Planning, was apprehended along with eight other individuals, over their alleged involvement in spreading spam emails that carried Android malware that collected contact details from a victims device. He is said to be a prolific poker player, earning over a million dollars from his gambling.

android-evilKagawa’s company was said to have earned around $3.9 million (£2.5m) by running a fake dating service. The spam messages directed people to that site, whilst also carrying the malware. The malware was used to hoover up more contact details to constantly expand the scope of the illicit campaign.

Android malware scheme

Security giant Symantec aided police in the investigation. It said the operation began around September 2012 and ended in April 2013. Around 150 domains were used to host the malicious apps, and reports suggested around 37 million email addresses from 810,000 Android devices were collected by the malware.

The Enesoluty malicious program is believed to have connections to other campaigns, the security firm said.

“We also believe Android.Maistealer and Android.Enesoluty share common source code with another malware, called Android.Uracto, and that a different group of scammers were maintaining the latter, as the distribution strategy of the malware differs considerably,” it said.

“It is believed that this other group has yet to be identified, so there will probably be another few twists and turns to this story in the future.”

As for Kagawa, his gambling days could soon be over. “His passion for taking chances and risks has paid off in the game of Poker, but it’s not looking good for his gambling with Android malware. Kagawa and his associates now await a likely prosecution,” Symantec added.

Mobile threats are increasingly causing genuine problems, particularly for Android users. Google’s OS is responsible for 92 percent of all known mobile malware, according to Juniper Networks.

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