Hackers target YouTube channels in Japan as online fraud cases rise | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

There has been a marked increase in hacked YouTube channels inside Japan, as cybercriminals target viewers’ personal computers by installing malware to steal personal information and passwords for use in cybercrimes.

Yuji Okawa, 36, from Gero, Gifu Prefecture, posts videos of himself playing with his pet cat and dog on his YouTube channel, called “perorins.”

In April, he received an email in English from someone claiming to be a YouTuber, telling him he could more effectively monetize his platform by “changing the method of calculating (your) income.”

Unaware he was being scammed, Okawa was led to an illicit website where he proceeded to enter his account ID and password. It was several hours later when he noticed that he was unable to upload videos onto his channel and that his past videos had been deleted.

Yuji Okawa shoots a YouTube video in July 2023 in Gifu, central Japan. (Kyodo)

He was also shocked to discover that a video soliciting investment in cryptocurrencies had been uploaded on his channel. “My mind went blank,” he said.

“Sotaro’s Outdoor ch,” which posts camping videos and other content, had an account with more than 110,000 channel subscribers deleted by YouTube as a result of unauthorized videos being posted.

In June, fishing and outdoor activities channel “Momoiro Toiki Tai” (peach-colored breath squad) was also hacked. The operator of the channel was deceived by an email written in English and purporting to be from Canon Inc., a leading Japanese manufacturer of precision instruments.

In both cases, once the hackers took over the YouTube accounts, they posted videos advertising cryptocurrency investments and free pirated software downloads, leading viewers to fraudulent websites with promises of further information.

Supplied photo shows Yuji Okawa talking about the hacking of his YouTube channel. (Kyodo)

The websites could lead to victims seeing their computers infected with viruses and information from their browsers such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and passwords could be stolen, according to Takashi Yoshikawa of Mitsui Bussan Secure Directions Inc., a Tokyo-based provider of information technology security solutions.

The unauthorized use of credit cards and illegal remittances via internet banking transactions are also among possible consequences for unsuspecting viewers, while stolen passwords can be used to take over even more YouTube channels, he said.

Speaking on the increased hacking of YouTubers’ accounts, Google Inc., operator of the online video-sharing and social media platform, issued a comment saying that when dubious videos are detected, it informs account holders and gives them necessary advice.

Google Support says that what it considers dubious activities on a YouTube channel includes “videos you didn’t upload, comments you didn’t make or unfamiliar changes to your channel name, profile photo, descriptions, email settings and sent messages.”

It also recommends changing passwords immediately if it looks like someone else has signed into your account.

Google deleted some 6.48 million videos thought to be related to fraud or other criminal activity in the first three months of this year, up sharply from 3.88 million for the same period in 2022.

Related coverage:

Cybercrime in Japan hits record high in 2022, ransomware cases surge

Hacker group attacks Japan nuclear websites over Fukushima water plan

Japan’s busiest cargo port restarts after Russia-based hack

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