Spyware arrest follows Internet bank thefts

A Japanese man is alleged to have installed spyware on one of a jewellery shop's computers and obtain passwords to the shop's Internet banking accounts.

A Japanese man has been arrested for allegedly creating and distributing malicious code which was designed to steal internet banking passwords.

An investigation into the theft of ¥216,000 (US$1,860) from the bank account of a jewellery shop in Kawasaki, Japan, found that spyware had been installed on one of the company's computers and passwords liberated by stealth.

Atsushi Takekawa, 31, has been arrested in relation to the theft and police are also investigating a second man, 41-year-old Kiichi Hirayama.

It is alleged the two men conspired to infect the company by attaching the spyware to an e-mail sent to the company, purporting to be from a dissatisfied customer.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said Takekawa's arrest is encouraging, especially at a time when such malicious code is on the increase.

However, he cautioned that the arrest is "only the tip of the iceberg".

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.