“Romancing” Eroge Virus Blackmails Pirates

kotonoha-through-screen.jpg

A cunning virus which masquerades as the installer to various pirated releases of popular software, especially adult games, was in fact part of a wider scheme to blackmail the pirates it caught into making payments if they wanted to have incriminating personal details removed from the web.

The virus itself has been spread on Japan’s top P2P networks Winny and Share, where it is disguised as a game installer and packaged in fake pirate releases of popular eroge (or in other popular targets of pirate interest).

The installer first asks for personal details as part of the installation process, which it sends to a remote site, after which it takes a screenshot of the user’s desktop and collects details such as file access and browser history, and sends all of this to the same site.

However, its mischief does not end there – once public, the user was presented with the sight of their details spread about on the web, and a form with which to request the details be taken down.

If the user was stupid enough to provide further contact details, the company would then send a threatening email demanding a small “settlement fee” to clear up the issue of their copyright infringement (none of which was anything more than opportunistic scam, of course).

The sites involved in this particular iteration of the scam have since been shut down, but not before some 5,500 people are thought to have been infected. Just how many went along with the blackmail and paid to save their name, and whether the blackmailers actually removed their details as a result, is not known.

The whole process has come to be known as the “Romancing swindle,” based on the name of a company supposedly involved, Romancing Corporation.

The story has even been picked up by the BBC, though at the time of writing their version is pathetically riddled with inaccuracies – “Winni,” it  is said, is used by “up to 200 million people” (larger than the entire population of Japan), and the virus “targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime.”

lolicon-headteacher-apologises.jpg

The most famous victim of this particular iteration of the virus was the head teacher of a middle school caught pirating software and downloading what is thought to be child pornography.

Despite the scandal, he appears to have kept his job in spite of it being rather obvious his interest in his students may take a decidedly extramural turn.

doctor-desktop.jpg

Another case was the admin of the “PC Game Clinic,” a 10-year-old eroge review site carrying some 700 carefully prepared reviews, with the admin purportedly an eroge collector and connoisseur.

The admin/writer (or “doctor”) was exposed by the virus to be nothing more than a common pirate, and when confronted first claimed “a friend borrowed my notebook and installed it” – however the screenshots showed more storage than any notebook could ever contain, and 2ch soon gained access to his Mixi profile, confirming his identity, along with the whois details to the domain.

doctor-collection.jpg

Frantic excuses and offers to show parts of his collection followed, but for some reason he could only get 5 games together. Soon his excuses stopped and he closed the site in what might be presumed to be shame at his deceitful hypocrisy, although he refused to admit wrongdoing (usually a major mistake when dealing with 2ch).

Such viruses in fact have a long history in Japan, generally having been employed for the perverse amusement of sites such as 2ch – voyeurism and vigilantism there combine in a sort of sport in which 2ch occupies itself periodically in attempting to destroy the life of someone it takes umbrage at.

However, in 2007 what may have been the first for-profit Winny virus was distributed, although in that case the fraud was much less sophisticated.

That the developers of such viruses eventually concocted a much more effective scheme by which they could extort money from their idiot victims is hardly surprising.


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    Comment by Anonymous
    11:52 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I notice you guys get extremely cranky when mentioning PS3/PSP/hell sony in general, piracy. But you all seem to not give a crap about eroge piracy.

    You are aware there is no actual difference? And don't give me that crap waaah it's not easily available to [insert country here], and that's why I pirate eroge. Japanese friends, forums, proxies, there eroge piracy solved right? Didn't think so.

    And for all of you who claim to have NEVER stolen anything aka being a pirate. Are you aware that downloading any picture off the internet without asking the owners permission is copyright infringement, unless it comes from public domain. Yes it actually is, here is an example : http://www.pdimages.com/law/19.htm

    And I can assure you Sankaku's Image channel is not public domain.

    Youtube is a huge violation of copyright infringement, pictures(slide shows), videos/movies/episodes and music. I'm willing to bet everyone here has used youtube. And if you stream it, then your pirating.

    I don't care about piracy, because I pirate, but I hate double standards. It's either all fine or none of it is.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:14 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    If you don't care then STFU? Seems simple to me. I mean I'm sure you've been a hypocrite yourself at some stage in your life.

    The publishing argument is a valid one. If they aren't willing to sell their games outside of Japan that's their prerogative but they can't really complain if I pirate the wares I can't purchase.

    Now as you seem to be happy to continue making an arse of yourself I'll address your other point.

    Unintentional copyright violation. Been on google recently? Yeah no doubt you've downloaded some copyrighted material at some stage just browsing through search results. I can safely say most of that infringement doesn't actually matter. If the owner gave a damn they would see about protecting their copyright.

    When someone says they've never pirated something they mean they've never pirated commercial wares, that is things that costs monies to purchase. Yes you're bound to come across copyrighted material but odds are the majority of it has no asking price and is just under the simple automatic copyright laws that may or may not apply in your country.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:30 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Lol your an idiot.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:14 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    TL:DR version.

    Stop being a dick.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:50 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Someone should make a virus for a VN with a yandere that periodically checks your save files for certain flags and then sends you threatening emails.

    Avatar of loli in a box
    Comment by loli in a box
    18:52 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That idea is awesome. Seriously.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:36 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Out of the 1000 or so H-Game's i own i have never came across one that has asked for personal detail's to install
    so basic common sense would tell you something was up when one does and only an idiot would enter real detail's into a pirated game

    Avatar of QuirkZ
    Comment by QuirkZ
    12:10 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No.! Kotonoha!<3 HELL YEAH<3 No.2 I applaud rmancing corp. since piracy is a serious economic threat nowadays... people seem to accept that since you can get free entertainment it no longers matters what happens afterwards even if the sales are hurt as a result. No.3 the BBC needs to do it's homework it's giving people the wrong impression about anime and getting them mixed up with e roge

    Avatar of MARl0
    Comment by MARl0
    08:55 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Good stuff indeed. The pirates got what they deserved. Too bad it was taken down.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:20 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You know, I would suspect something when the installer for anything but an office suite asked me for personal identity stuff as part of an install.

    To be blunt, you do NOT have to put that stuff into a LEGITIMATE installer.... at least not yet.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:07 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    At least when anonymous and 4chan decide to take action, it's usually for an important cause. =/

    Avatar of Sandalphon
    Comment by Sandalphon
    09:05 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "The installer first asks for personal details as part of the installation process"

    That would have set off the highest level alarms in my brain. No pirate software needs my personal details for any purpose. I would have just deleted the damned thing asap an probably run an antivirus/ antispyware software.

    Avatar of appztetra
    Comment by appztetra
    21:41 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    WoYeah! Yumina FD and Kashimashi

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:23 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    poor fools they didn't have antivirus and also they caught pirating eroge

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:51 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh.. Like Ring.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:12 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    #1 - Downloads from Share
    #2 - Disables NIC
    #3 - ???
    #4 - Profit?

    Then again the fact that they actually entered personal information for a game installer leaves their knowledge to be highly suspect. Doing anything illegal? Well paranoia is your friend!

    Avatar of Reo
    Comment by Reo
    08:32 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is quite a scary viruses...

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:09 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ...for stupid people...

    Avatar of Fonzer
    Comment by Fonzer
    05:16 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    1st pic cut cock is all what comes to my mind

    Avatar of Miroku74
    Comment by Miroku74
    06:31 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That just means before you fap, you need to keep that steel codpiece on until Kotonoha-chan goes away. When she disappears from the screen after bootup, whip it off and commence the Five Finger Knuckle Shuffle!

    Problem solved.

    Comment by H-Ero
    05:10 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    “targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime.”

    Calling games "anime" is pretty stupid (with all the attention anime has been getting recently, it's a shame that the average westerner still doesn't know that anime is just what the japanese call animation and isn't used to describe all media from japan) but at least they're acknowledging hentai as a genre and not using it synonymously with "anime".

    Avatar of Rindoro
    Comment by Rindoro
    04:57 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    aw those poor fools :P

    Avatar of Darkrockslizer
    Comment by Darkrockslizer
    05:13 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wonder if you'd say the same thing had YOUR computer been exposed.

    Comment by Schrobby
    05:30 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Exposed by typing personal info into a pirate installer? Dumb people are dumb...

    Avatar of h8GWB
    Comment by h8GWB
    16:35 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or maybe they should show less shame and more spine about being dishonest in the first place. Or else we wouldn't have lost any sweet eroge review site in the process.

    Avatar of Fonzer
    Comment by Fonzer
    20:20 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    not like i don't agree with this.They are japanese and it's their industry to support.

    Avatar of Fonzer
    Comment by Fonzer
    05:38 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    i never write such personal info anywhere,not even in games that ask me,don't allow the stupidity of society to affect you.
    Maybe japanese should be less honest about such things?

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:59 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, yes, he's a fool, regardless of whose computer was infected, isn't it common sense to feed fake data to pirated game installers? Heck I'd feed fake data even I *bought* the game.

    Never give up personal information without a reason.

    But that's just the basics. The other thing is running this shit in an emulator, there are free personal use pc emulators these days, eroge aren't really hardware intensive and don't require a net connection, you don't have any reason not to run them in sandboxed environments.

    Given that copy protection systems are basically rootkits, just assume all games are trojans.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:00 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    @Anon 07:59

    You're right, there's no excuse not to run stuff like that in a virtual machine. There are good, free VM systems out there.

    * Qemu (quite stable, command-line interface, runs on Windows, Linux, and OS/X; it also emulates non-x86 architectures)

    * VirtualBox (lots of nifty features, a nice GUI, runs on Windows, Linux, and OS/X, but between changes and regression bugs, less stable, I think, than Qemu)

    * Microsoft Virtual PC (it is what it is)

    Avatar of zealtron
    Comment by zealtron
    04:53 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    GG Hentai Pirates.

    On another note, the fact that the head teacher of a middle school was caught downloading CP is pretty amusing. I wonder why he's teaching at a middle school, why not an elementary school?

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:17 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Even among japan, only retards still use Winny anyways..

    Share, Perfect Dark, Torrents, etc., etc..

    Stop posting such worthless crap..

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:10 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "The installer first asks for personal details as part of the installation process"

    So they saw this on the screen and thought "okay sure. Why not?" ?

    Comment by H-Ero
    05:13 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "On another note, the fact that the head teacher of a middle school was caught downloading CP is pretty amusing. I wonder why he's teaching at a middle school, why not an elementary school?"

    Porn of middle school kids is still CP. A person is considered a child as long as they're under 18.

    Avatar of Neonie
    Comment by Neonie
    00:57 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That doesn't apply to Japan, it's just the arbitrary number AMERICA made up. I'm sure Japan has a DIFFERENT arbitrary number that doesn't actually mean anything.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:17 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Legally, yes. But when talking about CP, do you really expect it to feature 17-year-olds? Also, pedophiles are strictly interested in prepubescent children, you would expect child porn to have children of that age.

    It should also be noted that porn featuring adolescent children is legal in some countries.

    Avatar of Shi nai weaboo
    Comment by Shi nai weaboo
    05:10 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Whoever makes these stupid viruses should be given the death penalty pure and simply

    Avatar of h8GWB
    Comment by h8GWB
    16:33 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    See!? This is why I run my antivirus actively whenever I install and run.......um.....things that wouldn't necessarily have a need for such security measures. Right.

    Comment by Charismatic Vampire
    09:20 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They are scum but this not a virus but instead a trojan horse.
    If this is someone's idea of vigilantism against pirates remember in countries like US and member states of the EU this carries a much higher penalty then piracy.
    It's blackmail in the US and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years plus there is the computer trespassing laws.

    Avatar of Darkrockslizer
    Comment by Darkrockslizer
    05:15 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Viruses on the internet simply mirror the ass side of humanity irl. Can't have a day without a new douchebag doing shit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:16 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    poor guys just wanted porn games. don't give personal info on bootleg shit. and if it isn't an actual installer, then there is no crime. there was an incident in america i think, where a guy would make false child pornography photos. he would upload them on a p2p program with suggestive names. once they were downloaded, the guy tried to call the police on the person who downloaded the kiddy porn. the case wouldn't hold water because downloading a threatining letter called kiddy porn isn't illegal, and if he uploaded real child porn HE would get busted.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:33 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    agree

    Avatar of Shi nai weaboo
    Comment by Shi nai weaboo
    05:25 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wish someone would one day make a cool virus
    ......you know like one that would make your computer faster or something and perhaps grow resilient to other viruses

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:51 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I saw this news ages ago for cross days, what could be worse than a virus stealing all your personal information. It would be worse when that information includes a game based on trasvestite 2d traps lmfao.

    Avatar of Miroku74
    Comment by Miroku74
    06:24 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Then some other script-douchebag would come along to build a better mousetrap against that virus.

    Srsly, the only reason people make computer viruses is to stay in business.

    Sarcasm

    More money in making new viruses that the latest version of XXXXX Antivirus just happens to be proof against.

    /sarcasm

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:20 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    CP is a very broad umbrella term. If his worst offense is 15yo schoolgirls, then that's perfectly normal, medical wise (but not legal wise!).
    Paedophilia is attraction to very young children. There is a great manga about the subject that sankaku linked some months ago.

    Avatar of ו═╣═flood══›
    04:58 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The picture Kotonoha? resembles her.. plus she's yandere

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:16 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What's the pic's title?

    hint:
    kotonoha-through-screen.jpg

    Avatar of h8GWB
    Comment by h8GWB
    16:39 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Off topic, but I wouldn't mind a girl like that coming outta my TV. Being anime/manga related, I'd have a good chance of gettin' sum action, before being lacerated to death.

    Avatar of Y10NRDY
    Comment by Y10NRDY
    05:05 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh come on! What idiot is gonna plug personal information into the installer of pirated software? Noobz.

    Avatar of Ginko
    Comment by Ginko
    05:46 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Before installing the game, please enter your name and address so we can ship you your free loli."

    Maybe they thought it was worth the risk. :3

    Avatar of Miroku74
    Comment by Miroku74
    06:27 16/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Phineas T. Barnum put it pretty well: "There's a sucker born every minute."




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