Ransomware damage reports surge in January-June

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The National Police Agency building

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The number of ransomware damage reports made to Japanese police in January-June shot up 1.8-fold from a year before to 114, National Police Agency data showed Thursday.

The reports on ransomware attacks, in which hackers encrypt data in victims’ computers and demand ransom for restoring the data, were made in 30 of the country’s 47 prefectures in the first half of 2022, according to the survey.

In many cases, offenders broke into systems by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in virtual private networks used for teleworking and other purposes. The NPA is calling for computer users to strengthen system security.

According to the agency, the number of ransomware damage reports rose from 21 in the second half of 2020, to 61 in the first half of 2021 and then to 85 in the second half of the same year.

Japanese police have yet to arrest suspects in ransomware attacks, which apparently have been made by offenders outside the country.

In 28 cases reported in the first half of 2022, offenders demanded money, seeking payments in the form of bitcoin in most cases. The agency did not say whether the payments were made.

Asked about the extent of damage, six organizations replied to the agency that all of their operations were suspended following a ransomware attack.

In February, Toyota Motor Corp. halted operations at all its domestic plants after a parts supplier was hit by a ransomware attack.