Subverting Fingerprint Scanners

So you probably heard about this already as it has been mentioned on BBC News, Slashdot and one of my favorite new sources, HiTB.

From BBC News:

"Lin Rong, 27, had previously been deported from Japan for overstaying her visa. She was only discovered when she was arrested on separate charges.

Tokyo police said she had paid $15,000 (£9,000) to have the surgery in China.

It is Japan's first case of alleged biometric fraud, but police believe the practice may be widespread.

Japanese police suspect Chinese brokers of taking huge sums to modify fingerprints surgically.

Local media reports said Ms Lin had undergone surgery to swap the fingerprints from her right and left hands.

Japanese newspapers said police had noticed that Ms Lin's fingers had unnatural scars when she was arrested last month for allegedly faking a marriage to a Japanese man."

From about 3 years ago, Japan has required all foreigners to have their fingerprints scanned and picture taken at customs when entering the country. This has cost an ENORMOUS amount of money to deploy and has been seen as a complete waste and useless at best by most security experts here. The system was installed in the name of "preventing terrorism" (the popular excuse for anything these days) but many think it is just an excuse to be able to crack down even more on illegal foreigners, despite the already hard time it is to get into (and be able to stay legally in) this country. The system was based off the the U.S. list of known terrorists which is known to be highly inaccurate. Just ask Bruce Schneier.

Actually, this is not really new news at all as I heard about this on NHK (I believe) several months (maybe year?) back. They were reporting on not Chinese, but how in South Korea there is a big semi-underground market to supply people with a clear plastic film to put over your fingers that will fool the fingerprint scanner. This has been going on since shortly have the installment of the system apparently. The thing that I thought was most interesting about this was that they said either the cost of the fake plastic fingerprint or the cost that people were paying for them was less than a dollar. One would naturally think it is the manufacturing cost of the actual plastic that is less than a dollar but I am pretty sure I remember they said that people were buying these things for that price! (Although I wouldn't take my word for it as my memory isn't so great in my old age..) But if my memory serves me correct, it means that this Chinese woman isn't a very a wise spender as she could have easily saved money buying a plane ticket to South Korea ($300?), picked up some of those plastic fake fingerprints for a couple bucks and saved $14,700 along with permanent scars. ^^v


Be careful when illegally exporting to North Korea

Two men, one 62 and one 73 were arrested in my (figuratively speaking) backyard, the Kobe port, for trying to export clothes and other luxurious goods to North Korea. (About $60,000USD worth of goods)
It is the first time for someone to get arrested for illegal exports to the country since increased sanctions introduced last year because of the long range missile tests of Japan and continued nuclear weapon productions.



First Mass? Arrests In Copyright Infringement Bust

(Headline: Man arrested for leaking new Harry Potter)

Yesterday, the National Police Agency announced that they arrested 11 people in 10 different provinces around Japan for copyright infringement. This is the very first time that authorities have cooperated together and performed a "large scale" (I use the term relatively) bust on many people at once.
Currently, only uploading copyrighted materials is illegal but as of next January (28 days left!) downloading copyrighted material will also become illegal thanks to a revision in the copyright laws.

The police say they will started cracking down hard as of next year...

The person that was shown on the news I saw yesterday about this and is written in the article is a 47 year old man from Nagano who would upload hit songs. In October alone this year, he uploaded to around 9600 people, supposedly causing "damages" of around 77,000,000 yen (around $770,000USD)

By the way, the P2P software that all of these people were using is called "Share", the sort of replacement for Winny. Share is a closed source program that it only available on Freenet. The author of the program keeps anonymous as he/she does not want to end up with the same fate as the Winny creator. (and with good reason!)
The main benefit of the program was that it was supposed to guarantee anonymity, which it obviously fails to do....

Here are some other cases where people have been arrested for using this software(from wikipedia):
Three Japanese people aged 21 to 41 were arrested in Kyoto, Japan on 9 May 2008 for illegally uploading anime files with Share. These were the first Share-related cases in Japan. Nevertheless, a research showed that there was no significant drop of on-line Share users after these arrests.

On 27 November 2008, another male Share user was arrested in Japan for illegally uploading Japanese TV drama with Share.

On 12 February 2009, the first two male Share users were caught for uploading Child pornography with Share.

On 30 September 2009, multiple Japanese media reported that two men were arrested for uploading Nintendo DS game software which include Square Enix's Dragon Quest IX. They are the first users arrested for uploading DS games.

Since 2001, there has only been 26 cases of people being arrested for copyright infringement for distributing over P2P networks. 6 of them have been in 2009.

As the Japanese culture makes people be very crazy about sticking to the rules no matter how silly, small, etc... they could be, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a much larger rise in people getting arrested (and no doubtfully getting fired from their jobs short after, being put on national news shown as a criminal..as if someone among the ranks of a terrorist, and probably causing many other major reasons for severe depression) just for providing a few songs or games over P2P networks, something that would probably be overlooked in the rest of the world.

(I only post this picture of Ed Norton from American History X as I thought it was weird that it came up on a google image search when I searched for "Share Arrests"(in Japanese). Nonetheless, this is probably the image that the general public has on file sharers thanks to the way the media portrays them)

For the last image of the day, I post this as I thought it was cute and particularly Japanese. Every time someone gets arrested for a computer crime like this the police lay out all of the seized computer equipment nice and neat on a table and that gets shown on the news as they talk about the incident.

Source: Yahoo Japan News

Cracking Down on Net Cafes

A couple days ago, there was an announcement about considering "hardening" net cafes in the Tokyo metropolitan area that would require by law net cafes to ID all customers and keep that information for up to 3 years. This is to prevent abuse at net cafes which are seen by some as a "breading ground for evil" since anyone can use the computers.

At the earliest, this ordinance will be brought up in the Diet next spring and may be in effect as soon as next year.

As of August, there were 561 net cafes in Tokyo and only 38% did ID checking(/recording?).

Source: Asashi News