FBI Director: North Korea Conducted Cyberattacks Involving Cryptocurrencies Due to Sanctions


  • North Korea could be behind cryptocurrency attacks during the last years
  • Countries applied sanctions to the nation that affected it economically

According to the South Korean news outlet Korea Herald on May 30, United States sanctions on North Korea could have incentivized the country to conduct cryptocurrency cyber attacks. The news outlet cites a senior FBI official that said this during a conference.

FBI Believes North Korea Performed Cybercrimes After Sanctions

Tonya Ugoretz, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, said that financial sanctions imposed to North Korea could have pushed it to perform cybercriminal activities. Tonya Ugoretz said that during an event that was organized by the U.S. think tank The Aspen Insitute.

Pyongyang seems to be behind different malicious campaigns related to crypto hijackings such as ransomware and other hacks to South Korean exchanges. According to the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, financial sanctions were able to have a strong economic impact on the country which pushed authorities to conduct cyber operations as a means to make money. These attacks include crypto mining or bank theft.

Some of the attacks that are linked to North Korean cyber criminals include the 2017’s WannaCry, and other attacks to crypto exchanges in South Korea and other countries in the region.

The director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, Erin Joe, stated that the FBI was focusing on deterrence of crypto-related attacks. The Korea Herald quoted him saying that there is a huge effort in the FBI to stop malicious activity related to cryptocurrencies and other threats.

Indeed, there are some reports that say that countries such as Venezuela, Iran or Russia are using digital assets in order to avoid financial sanctions imposed by Western countries. Indeed, Venezuela, for example, created its own digital currency called Petro.

In order to avoid being affected by these hacks, it is necessary for users to hold their digital currencies on cold storage wallets, including hardware and paper solutions.

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