Multiple North Korean Cryptocurrency Hacks Under UN Investigation


The United Nations has launched an investigation into North Korean cyber-attacks which targeted cryptocurrency exchanges in the neighboring South. India has been a victim in the digital crime spree which targeted 17 countries in total.

Cryptocurrency Exchanges Targeted

The UN has ramped up its investigation of North Korean cyber-attacks following the release of reports detailing efforts to accumulate wealth for weapons programs. According to the SCMP there have been at least 35 incursions in 17 countries.

A high level North Korean military intelligence agency called the Reconnaissance General Bureau is believed to be behind the attacks. The preliminary report stated that over $ 2 billion has been amassed from a hacking spree which targeted financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, predominantly in South Korea.

The 35 attacks were on South Korean targets with India suffering three while Bangladesh and Chile had two apiece. It added that 13 countries suffered one attack: Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam.

The methods of attack included channels through interbank transfer protocol, SWIFT, where hackers are exploited by computer employees and infrastructure which was accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence. The investigation also revealed the theft of cryptocurrency

"Through attacks on both exchanges and users and mining of cryptocurrency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military"

The panel stated that one of South Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bithumb, was targeted on multiple occasions. It was launched in February 2017 and July 2017, with each resulted in losses of approximately $ 7 million. A June 2018 attack led to $ 31 million loss and one in March this year resulted in a $ 20 million loss.

A number of cryptocurrency exchanges in the region, including Binance, Tokyo based BitPoint, and Singapore based Bitrue. However, the investigation did not directly detect these hacks with the Pyongyang regime.

CryptoJacking: A Weapon Of Choice

The investigation also revealed that cryptojacking was on several occasions. This method involves the use of malware to hijack and unsuspecting computers and their processing power in order to mine Monero. XMR is usually the hacker's coin of choice two to its extensive privacy and anonymity layers.

It added that one report analyzed to piece of malware designed to mine by Monero In August last year it was reported that the Lazarus group, which has ties to the North, had resurfaced with new malware targeting Apple Mac operating systems among others.

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