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Japanese cryptominer slapped with suspended sentence

Said to have netted only £34...

A Japanese man has received a suspended sentence for using a cryptominer in a failed attempt to turn an illicit profit.

Masato Yasuda, 24, was told he'd be jailed for a year if he reoffended in the next three years over a scam that earned him just £34. The case is thought be the first criminal prosecution over so-called cryptojacking worldwide.

Yasuda, an unemployed man from the city of Amagasaki in Hyōgo Prefecture, had hoped to, er, coin it in by planting Coinhive's Monero-mining JavaScript on the PCs of third-party victims in January and February. Instead of making bank, he made what would have been barely enough to cover any taxi fare home from the police station.

Yasuda is said to have embedded the Coinhive JavaScript library inside a supposed game cheat tool that was offered for download, his defence lawyer told The 90 resulting downloads brought in around 5,000 Japanese yen worth of Monero cryptocurrency (£34 or $45).

"The defendant regretted what he did, learning information ethics and other matters," the sentencing judge Ryo Kato said, according to Japanese news outlet The Mainichi.

"This is the first criminal case of cryptojacking in the world that I'm aware of," Troy Mursch, a security researcher active in tracking cryptojacking abuse, told El Reg. "Tracking down perpetrators can be difficult as Coinhive doesn't require any user identification verification. After the mined Monero is paid out to a wallet, it's basically untraceable beyond that."

Adware, cracked games and pirated software have all been used by cybercriminals to secretly infect PCs with crypto-mining malware. Even more commonly, hackers plant code on compromised web pages so that the PCs of visiting surfers are press-ganged into mining, a practice most associated with the growing problem of cryptojacking.

Japanese authorities last month arrested 16 cryptojacking suspects as part of a local clampdown, according to reports.

Prosecutors reckon the 16 suspects hacked sites and inserted the Coinhive library into their code. The biggest earner among the 16 suspects allegedly made about 120,000 Japanese yen (£819, $1,085). ®

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