An anonymous cyber villain has led Japanese police on a merry dance over the past few months, culminating in the capture on Monday of a cat said to be carrying a computer virus on a memory card attached to its collar.
Detectives with the country’s National Police Agency (NPA) nabbed the creature on an island near Tokyo after a bizarre treasure hunt was sparked on New Year’s Day when media outlets received an email offering them the “chance for a big scoop”, AFP reported.
The emails contained a set of riddles designed to lead the recipients to the memory card – although police initially went on a wild goose chase up a mountainside before a further message apparently clarified the location of the pesky feline.
The virus in question is said to be iesys.exe, dubbed the “Remote Control Virus”, which, as the name suggests, is capable of controlling a compromised computer from a remote location, according to Symantec.
This is relevant because the anonymous cyber criminal is believed to have been behind a series of terrorist threats sent last year by email from various IP addresses and posted to popular Japanese discussion board 2channel.
These included bomb threats against a school and kindergarten attended by the Emperor’s grandchildren and a warning of an impending killing spree on the streets of Osaka.
In a hugely embarrassing incident during the investigation, the NPA arrested four suspects who were likely victims of iesys.exe - which was used to send the offending emails from their computers - rather than perpetrators of an attack.
One such suspect was held for weeks before a broadcaster was sent another anonymous message which could only have come from the genuine culprit, AFP said.
The shadowy figure remains at large, with police, now thoroughly fed up with this cat-and-mouse game, have announced a 3 million Japanese yen (£21,400) reward for his, her - or its - capture. ®