North Korea is expanding its mining operations of privacy coin Monero (XMR), while the regime is trying its best to find a way around US and UN sanctions.
In a recent report by cybersecurity company Recorded Future, it’s being said that the Monero network traffic originating from IP addresses belonging to North Korea have increased by at least 10 times since May of last year. According to the report, XMR is the most popularly mined digital asset in the country, overcoming the regime’s Bitcoin (BTC) mining activities.
Lower Operation Costs and Anonymity Could Be the Reason?
The same report says North Koreans have changed their preferences because XMR mining can be done with non-specialized machines like ordinary computers and thus reduces the costs that are normally needed for importing expensive bitcoin mining rigs.
Besides, XMR transactions are anonymous, so North Korea can use the coins to evade the attempts of tracking funds or the sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and the US on the regime. Here’s what the report states:
“We assess that cryptocurrencies are a valuable tool for North Korea as an independent, loosely regulated source of revenue generation, but also as a means for moving and using illicitly obtained funds.”
The XMR Share Hashrate for North Korea not Determined
North Korea’s mining activities are being hidden with proxy IPs, so analysts were having a hard time determining the country’s share of monero's hashrate. While the U.N. made the suggestion before that a North Korea military branch was responsible for the mining activities of the regime, Record Future wasn’t able to say what entity the monero mining was based on or what data it had gathered.
XMR Used by North Korea Since 2017
North Korea has been using XMR since 2017 when the WannaCry attack exchanged the extorted BTC into XMR. The Record Future report says the BTC mining activity in the country has remained static in the last 2 years.
XMR is a cryptocurrency preferred by criminal organizations. The hacking group Outlaw for example also developed bots for crypto mining that can infiltrate into enterprises’ computers and mine XMR without getting detected. A year ago, an estimation had revealed that almost 5% of all XMR was mined through crypto-malware.