Monero CryptoJacking Mining Malware Coinhive Under Investigation by Japanese Authorities

Authorities in Japan Pursue XMR Cryptojacking Incident

As cryptocurrency technology continues to gain traction in many parts of the world, law enforcement agencies are working overtime in an effort to deal with the new kinds of financial and online crimes which are becoming increasingly prevalent on the growing market. The anonymity of currencies such as Bitcoin lends itself to crime, and the financial crime departments of many federal governments are tasked with responding to increasingly sophisticated digital security threats.

Japan is one country that has dedicated a lot of work to the responsible regulation of the massive crypto community growing within its borders. Consequently, they have worked hard to establish sets of rules and regulations which seek to help add life to the industry, while still preventing people from taking advantage of the unique crime opportunities it provides.

The Japanese police are currently investigating a new case of “cryptojacking,” a misuse of mining software which pirates the CPU and computing power of victims in order to add to the power of an advanced farm for cryptocurrency profits.

In this particular case, investigators speculate that Coinhive, a crypto mining software based in the country, has been illegally using a computer virus in order to gain access to the mining power of visitors to one of many sites run by the mining farm.

A Changing Legal Scene

Many governments are having a difficult time revising existing laws in order to encompass problems associated with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Japan has ruled several times that existing laws regarding improper use of online technologies such as viruses is still against the law, even when the violators are using blockchain technology to commit the crime.

In this scenario, the applicable law prevents people from installing software on a person’s computer without “consent or clear notices.” For crypto mining companies, this means that it is a federal crime to install mining software on a visitor’s computer if the visitor is not notified and does not consent to the installation of the software.

Ongoing Investigation

Japanese police are currently investigating the operation, and have placed specific sanctions on three individuals who were involved in the incident. The Yokohama Summary Court ordered one of the three individuals to pay around USD $904 for their placement of the illegal virus on the computers who visited the site.

The claim from the defendant, at least one of the three, was that the software did not classify as a virus, but was instead more similar in makeup to an advertisement distribution system. This case was allowed to progress to criminal trial by officials in several police departments in Central Japan, after officials found that the operation by Coinhive had installed software expressly without the consent of its hosts.

Precedent-Setting Case

The case is a significant one with large consequence for the crypto community within Japan. It is the first case to be adjudicated within the country involving cryptocurrency, and could have drastic implications for the industry as a whole. No matter what the decision, thousands of businesses within Japan will be holding their breath, waiting to hear what the fate of their own practices will be—in the legal sense.

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