Security Experts:

18 Million Stolen Credentials Found in Japan

Stolen usernames and passwords belonging to 18 million Internet users have been found on a server owned by a Japanese company, which is said to have provided services to Chinese hackers.

According to Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department cracked down on Tokyo-based Nicchu Shinsei Corp. in November. The firm’s president and several other employees were arrested and indicted.

Of the 18 million credentials, roughly 1.78 million are said to belong to customers of Yahoo Japan (90 percent), e-commerce company Rakuten, Twitter, Facebook, and other websites. Yahoo Japan said it reset the passwords of affected users.

The Japanese company allegedly provided stolen credentials and proxy services to Chinese hackers. The hackers leveraged the credentials to send messages to users in an effort to lure them to fraud websites, and steal reward points earned by victims on online services.

On the servers of Nicchu Shinsei, investigators also discovered a tool designed to find valid credentials by automatically trying to log in to accounts. Police said the company’s servers had also been used to conduct illegal money transfers.

This is not the first time police in Japan have found a large number of stolen credentials belonging to Japanese users on a server linked to Chinese hackers. Last year, police reported finding nearly 8 million stolen credentials on a server that had been used as a proxy.

Japan has been increasingly targeted by banking Trojans. Over the past months, researchers warned about cybercrime operations involving malware such as URLZone, RovnixBrolux, Neverquest, Tsukuba, and Shifu.

Advanced persistent threat (APT) actors have also set their sights on Japan. The group known as Blue Termite has targeted hundreds of organizations, including government agencies, universities, public interest groups, financial services firms, banks, and news companies. Earlier this year, Cylance published a report on Operation Dust Storm, in which attackers targeted both commercial and critical infrastructure organizations in Japan.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.