North Korea Hacking Scheme Leads to Small Crypto Fortune, Bypassing Sanctions: UN Security Council
Illicit cryptocurrency activities have been occurring for years, giving hackers a way to collect thousands or even millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency before they are caught.
Most of the time, these hackers are independent, but a recent report from Nikkei Asian Review shows that North Korea has already been pursuing cryptocurrency hacks that have gained them a small fortune. Reports from The Next Web indicate that the thefts are worth $670 million in both fiat and digital currency.
Based on the report the Nikkei Asian Review acquired from the United Nations Security Council, the country has been performing these hacks in an effort to bypass economic sanctions. This is the first time that the Security Council has given a report of the depth of the hacking.
Presently, the missile and nuclear programs within North Korea are subjected to significant economic sanctions. As such, they have struggled to maintain the same export of coals, which has subsequently reduced the foreign exchange earnings that they would otherwise have.
By using cryptocurrencies, the regime is more greatly enabled to evade sanctions. Without any kind of government regulation and the ease of money laundering, cryptocurrency is nearly perfect for their goals. The panel even believes the blockchain technology is being used as a way to avoid being traced.
At this point, the panel’s calculations conclude that there have been at least five successful attacks on crypto exchanges in Asia from January 2017 to September 2018.
The losses over this time amount to $571 million. Last October, the Group-IB cybersecurity vendor came to the same conclusion, crediting the infamous Lazarus hacking group for the loss. At the time, it was believed that Lazarus had been successful in 14 attacks against crypto exchanges, where the group stole the assets.
Considering the information that they discovered in the report, the panel recommended that create a consistent line of communication about the cyber-attacks with other governments. This would allow them to attempt the prevention of the attacks from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on crypto exchanges.