Japanese Man Sentenced to Jail for Cryptojacking

Avi Rosten

A Japanese man has been sentenced to a year’s jail for ‘cryptojacking’ in a first-of-its kind case for the country.

According to reports in Japanese media on Monday, a 24-year old man was given a one-year sentence - suspended for three years - for illegally using a remote-mining tool that harnesses unsuspecting internet users' CPUs to mine cryptocurrencies.

The reports explain that the Sendai District Court sentenced the unnamed man from Amagasaki - a central Japanese city near Osaka - but do not elaborate upon the precise details of how the cryptojacking was performed.

Cryptojacking has increasingly been in the news of late - with several reports of hackers using mining software Coinhive - a tool that mines cryptocurrency Monero.using the computing power of any browser that visits a site on which it is installed.

Released as a means for website users to earn revenue without advertising, Coinhive has since been exploited by hackers to mine Monero from users’ computers without their consent.

It seems however in this case that Coinhive was used, but not in the same way as in previous illegal instances.

According to bitcoin.com, the case involved the use of a cheat tool on an online game rather than being used on a website - as has been prevalent in the cryptojacking cases thus far.

The report explains that this difference might have important legal ramifications - with lawyer Takashi Hirano emphasising the distinction:

I think that there are major differences in the legal configuration between using Coinhive on one’s website and embedding Coinhive in one’s cheat tool.

Takashi Hirano

Cryptojacking has increasingly emerged as a problem for the crypto space, with cybersecurity firm McAfee recently finding that incidents have surged by 629% in the first quarter of 2018. This latest sentencing therefore, sets an important precedent as the fledgling space industry gets to grips with the criminality that has kept pace with its rapid growth.