Friday January 14, 2022
Skilful cyber attacks North Korea steals record amount of cryptocurrency
North Korea apparently finances its nuclear weapons and missile programs with stolen cryptocurrencies – and quite successfully. Last year, cyber attacks flushed almost a whopping 400 million US dollars into the coffers. A hacker group sanctioned by the USA is suspected.
North Korea has deployed thousands of hackers to hack into institutions, businesses, and academics in South Korea and around the world. In view of the sanctions imposed on the country, they have one goal above all: generate new income. According to one report, North Korean hackers are also extremely successful with it. Last year, at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms reportedly stole nearly $400 million in digital assets, making 2021 one of the best years for cybercriminals in the country, according to blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. “From 2020 to 2021, the number of hacks involving North Korea increased from four to seven, and the value extracted from those hacks increased by 40 percent,” the BCC quoted the Chainalysis report as saying. The attacks are said to have been directed primarily against investment firms and centralized stock exchanges. North Korea denies being involved in the hacking.
Lazarus Group suspected
The hackers used a range of techniques, including phishing emails, code exploits and malware, to siphon funds from the organizations’ so-called hot wallets and then move them to North Korean-controlled addresses, the company said. Wallets are where cryptocurrencies are stored . “Hot wallets” are storage locations for cryptocurrencies that are connected to the Internet and are therefore vulnerable to hacking. They are used to send and receive cryptocurrencies and allow users to view the number of their tokens. Experts recommend that it is better to move large amounts of cryptocurrencies that are not needed every day to “cold wallets” that are disconnected from the Internet.According to Chainalysis, it is likely that many attacks were carried out by the so-called Lazarus Group, one of the USA sanctioned hacking group believed to be controlled by North Korea’s primary intelligence agency. “As soon as North Korea got hold of the funds, they began a careful money-laundering to cover up and collect them,” the report on last year’s cyber attacks continued.
Retaliation for satirical film “The Interview”
North Korea’s hacking potential was first noticed in 2014. At that time it was about an attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in retaliation for the satirical film “The Interview”, in which Kim was ridiculed. Pyongyang is also suspected of having stolen the equivalent of 67 million euros from the Central Bank of Bangladesh and around 50 million euros from the Taiwanese bank Far Eastern International in 2017. The country was also held responsible for the global blackmail cyber attack WannaCry in 2017. A United Nations body accuses Pyongyang of using stolen cryptocurrencies primarily to finance its nuclear weapons and missile programs. For the period from 2019 to November 2020 alone, virtual currencies worth a total of around 316 million dollars (262 million euros) were stolen, according to the confidential UN report, which was prepared by a panel of experts reviewing sanctions against Pyongyang.
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