Japan police offers first-ever reward for wanted hacker

Japan's National Police Agency has posted a US$36,000 reward for a case in which it wrongly arrested men with hacked PCs

Japanese police are looking for an individual who can code in C#, uses a "Syberian Post Office" to make anonymous posts online, and knows how to surf the web without leaving any digital tracks -- and they're willing to pay.

It is the first time that Japan's National Police Agency has offered a monetary reward for a wanted hacker, or put so much technical detail into one of its wanted postings. The NPA will pay up to ¥3 million yen (US$36,000), the maximum allowed under its reward system.

The case is an embarrassing one for the police, in which earlier this year four individuals were wrongly arrested after their PCs were hacked and used to post messages on public bulletin boards. The messages included warnings of plans for mass killings at an elementary school posted to a city website.

"Up until now this type of reward was reserved for cases involving crimes like murder and arson, but the policy has recently been changed to include more types of crimes," an agency spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The reward poster, posted online on Wednesday, includes detailed technical descriptions of the wanted hacker's probable skills. These include the ability to use programming languages like C# to create a virus called "iesys.exe" and using an anonymous posting method called a "Syberian Post Office" to post messages to popular Japanese bulletin board 2channel. The agency also explains how a cross-site request forgery, an exploit that can allow hackers to making online postings via innocent users, was used in the case.

The police posting is a far cry from the traditional Japanese variety, which usually include sketches of wanted criminals, plus detailed pictures and descriptions of what they were wearing when crimes were committed.

The NPA changed its official reward policy on Dec. 7. It now has more leeway to use rewards in investigations, and is not limited by the type of crime. The maximum reward is set at ¥3 million yen, which can be increased up to ¥10 million yen in extreme cases.

Japan's National Police Agency is similar to organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S., but its role is more focused on working with and organizing local police forces than independent investigations.

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