North Korea’s use of cutting edge technology to get around the effects of economic sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un’s regime is well documented. In September, Washington-based financial experts Lourdes Miranda and Ross Delston accused North Korea of using crypto mining and coin scams as a means of generating revenue. Earlier this month, a notorious North Korean hacker group called “Lazarus” is responsible for the theft of more than $571 million in cryptocurrency.
Cybersecurity company Recorded Future has released a lengthy expose claiming that North Korea uses cryptocurrency to skirt U.S.-imposed economic sanctions alongside a shady network of collaborators and enablers in Singapore.
The company claims that in addition to mining coins like bitcoin and monero, North Korean leaders have also been involved in promoting cryptocurrency scams that have bilked investors around the world of millions of dollars.
The Recorded Future report claims that North Korean leaders mine bitcoin and monero at a relatively small scale, with the bulk of their efforts in the cryptocurrency space from the first quarter of 2018 to date now focused on exploiting growing worldwide crypto awareness for the purpose of launching investment scams. Two coins, in particular, are identified as North Korean scam projects, namely HOLD coin and Marine Chain.
HOLD Coin, also previously known as Interstellar, HUZU and Stellar (not to be confused with XLM) used a fraudulent staking scheme to collect investor money, having been variously listed and delisted across a number of exchanges before disappearing with all funds.
Marine Chain, on the other hand, was part of a more sophisticated scam that runs right to the heart of the North Korean government’s ability to consistently diminish the effectiveness of UN-imposed economic sanctions that would ordinarily cripple the regime. Billed as a tokenization framework for maritime vessels, an investigation by recorded future into Marine Chain revealed a complex network linked to Singapore with potentially far-reaching implications for cybersecurity in Southeast Asia.