Serial virus writer jailed for orange cartoon octopus malware

Filed Under: Law & order, Malware

Ika-tako virus behind barsAccording to media reports, a 28-year-old Japanese man has been sent to prison for two years and six months, after spreading a virus across the internet which damaged data on victims' computers.

In a first for the country, Japan has applied property destruction charges to the creator of a computer virus.

The 28-year-old wrote malware known locally as "ika-tako" (squid-octopus) which spread via the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing network in May to July last year, replacing affected files with an image of an orange cartoon octopus.

That's not the kind of thing which is looked on kindly at the best of times, but what makes the case look worse for this particular virus writer is that he has previous convictions for cybercrime.

Pirlames virusBack in 2008, he became the first virus writer ever arrested in Japan after distributing the Pirlames Trojan (dubbed "Harada" in the local press) via Winny that displayed images of popular anime characters while wiping music and movie files.

Ingeniously, he was at that time found guilty of violating copyright laws by spreading the anime images and given a two year prison sentence, suspended for three years.

Orange octopusHe wrote his new "ika-tako" virus while on probation for the previous offence.

Finding him guilty of destroying data on victims' computers in the latest incident, Judge Masaru Okabe of Tokyo District Court said that he had no choice but to hand out a custodial sentence:

"It was an ingenious, planned crime to spread a computer virus over a long period of time. The defendant committed the crime while he was on probation for a similar charge. I have no choice but to give him a sentence without suspension."

Last month it was announced that Japan was introducing legislation to make virus writing illegal in the country.

Once again, it's clear that some people have not got the message that malware is not a fun game, but can have serious consequences. Maybe a spell in prison will give him plenty of time to reflect on that.

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4 Responses to Serial virus writer jailed for orange cartoon octopus malware

  1. Margy · 1536 days ago

    I'm trying to understand...I can kind of understand spyware trying to get your details, and hackers challenging themselves to get into protected sites...what kind of person just want to damage innocents peoples files etc? Is it tech vandalism - like tagging?

    • That's pretty much all that malware was for the first 10 or so years.. electronic graffiti and mindless destruction.

      Then the money guys moved in..

      • leann · 1536 days ago

        is it possible they are for profit in some way i have got well not sure what it is my main files corupted and downloader doesn't work but as you see comp works fine just cant download but with economy no money so i deal with it but when you call a tech it will take alot to fix so my point is could be a money plot for the tech world so still survive

  2. This is a good post, Graham. It seems silly at first, with the orange octopus (which is quite cute looking), but is actually significant as legal precedent. Judge Okabe sounds like a decent person, based on the quote provided.

    Japan has enough to deal with now, what with the nuclear radiation nightmare. The last thing they need to worry about is malicious software.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley