North Korean Hackers Can Steal Your Bitcoin Says IssueMakersLab Cyber Warfare Research Group
It was recently reported that many North Korean hackers have been shifting their attacks from the staff of crypto exchanges to individual investors. South China Morning Post (SCMP) has affirmed that this is a new strategy by Pyongyang to blunt the impact of the international sanctions that the country has received, which made the access to USD be hard.
North Korean hackers were reported to steal over $517 million USD in 2017 and these numbers increased in 2018. While targetting more businesses and exchanges before, now it looks like they are after individual users.
Generally, the hackers send an email to the victims that, when it opened, will infect their computers with malware that will give them control over the machine. Sometimes they use ransomware and ask for cryptos and sometimes they use the malware to steal from the wallets of the victims.
Simon Choi, the founder of IssueMakersLab, a cyber warfare research group for cryptos, has explained that they most likely started to attack individuals mostly because the exchanges are raising their defenses against hackers because the attackers were too common and some of them even had to shut down after they were hacked.
Analysts say that sanctions lead these hackers to look for funds outside of the country and even speculate that the money is being used for the illicit nuclear weapons programme of North Korea (which we do not really have proof that is the truth, we only know that these attacks come from North Korea and that the country has sanctions, which might be two unrelated facts or not).
Cuvepia, a cybersecurity company in South Korea, has detected 30 cases of hacking since April and it accused North Korea. Another possible reason for the high rate of hacks is because you have no one to complain to since the government of North Korea is not welcoming to outsiders. This collaborates on the hypothesis that the hackers might be acting alone, too.
Some people that have been attacked recently are CEOs of wealthy firms that are “ordinary people” and do not know how to defend from these attacks, so they may lose a lot of money.
The Case Against North Korea
While no one has definitive proof on whether North Korea’s government is responsible for the attacks or not, it is known by experts that the country has an army of hackers at its disposal, which acts as spies, basically. They are known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau.
Recently, the Group IB has accused North Korean hackers of stealing over $571 million USD from five exchanges, including YouBit and Coincheck. They are also reported to be behind the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.
Will North Koreans Steal Your Bitcoin?
Are you a wealthy entrepreneur or a CEO of a multinational company? If the answer is no, then it is less likely that they do you any harm. At any rate, U. S.-based SIM swappers may also steal all your money, so you are simply not protected at all unless you keep your money in cold storage.
Unfortunately, the crypto world is still developing what it needs to be able to defend from all kinds of attacks, so it may still take some time before you can really be 100% safe.