A 17-year-old schoolboy was recently arrested by the Japanese police on suspicion of creating a computer malware that steals private keys (passwords) of cryptocurrency wallets, specifically targeting MonaCoin wallets.
For those unaware, MonaCoin (MONA) is a decentralized, open-source cryptocurrency launched in Japan in 2014. It is a relatively unpopular cryptocurrency that has been advertised as the first Japanese digital crypto-coin.
According to reports, the boy, a third-year high school student in Kaizuka, Osaka Prefecture, was alleged of hiding the malware app created by him inside a real application that shows the cryptocurrency market data. But, in reality, the malware app stole passwords for Monacoin wallets.
According to the arrest warrant, the teenager had shared the malicious app on an online bulletin board frequented by MonaCoin users on October 10th 2017 under the guise of helping them monitor cryptocurrency market prices.
While the exact scale of infection remains unknown, at least one person from Tokyo has been found to download the app after it was shared online, Japanese authorities say. Shortly after the installation, the man discovered that about 170 Monacoins, worth $500, went missing from his wallet. He said he saw other users’ warnings on the forum regarding the suspicious software, but it was too late at that point.
The teenager was arrested on January 30, 2018, by the police. On questioning by them, the teen defended himself by stating that “I didn’t do it with malicious intent.”
The teen is also under investigation to find out whether he used the passwords to steal funds from victims. The police are also investigating if the teen has targeted other unsuspecting users and whether he stole more funds or not, as they believe that the number of victims is likely much higher. However, no charges have been filed yet.
Just recently, Coincheck, a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange, was hit by the biggest hack in the history of cryptocurrency in which 58 billion Yen ($534 million) worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from its digital wallets. Following the attack, government authorities in Japan have launched an investigation and are cracking down on any illegal hack related activities.