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North Korea Accused of Stealing Over $1.7B in Crypto From Exchanges

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Leading South Korean media outlets on Thursday revealed that North Korea have taken over $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency from exchanges over a period of several years. 

These crimes were conducted by the hackers, who were trained and financed by North Korea. These hackers were responsible for the Bithumb and Kucoin attacks, which cost the exchanges $32 million and $281 million, respectively, in 2017 and 2018.

They are also accused of stealing over 4,000 Bitcoins in 2017 after hacking the YouBit cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea. Following training, the cybercriminals are allegedly taught to attack foreign bitcoin exchanges.

North Korea has not sold all of the money from the hacking

Surprisingly, North Korea has not sold all of the money from the hacking and has frequently chosen to keep them. The most powerful reason for North Korea to undertake these assaults is the financial and economic restrictions imposed by the West. According to Koh Myung-Hyun, Senior Research Fellow at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, the programmers, who work for a North Korean military intelligence agency, are also accused of developing and deploying “multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, as well as developing and fraudulently marketing a blockchain platform.”

From 2016 until early 2020, the plan also used recurrent “spear-phishing efforts” that targeted personnel of the US Defense Department, the State Department, and staff at US-cleared defense contractors and energy corporations.

US Attorney called out North Korea for its criminal behavior

Officials stated at a press conference on Wednesday that the development and approval of the so-called Marine Chain Token in 2017 and 2018, which allowed investors to buy fractional ownership using blockchain technology, North Korea was able to “secretly get cash from investors, manage shares in maritime container ships, and avoid US sanctions.”

“The scale of the criminal behavior by the North Korean hackers was wide and long-running, and the spectrum of offenses they committed is amazing,” said Tracy Wilkinson, acting US Attorney for the Central District of California.

North Korean hackers take a number of methods, including the deployment of harmful blockchain platforms and applications, as well as phishing and other hacking techniques. The programmers work for North Korea’s military intelligence service. Lazarus is one of the groups being accused of cyber incidents. Some of these monies are apparently used to purchase weapons, especially the expansion of the country’s nuclear and missile capabilities, as well as to assist the government in importing products and services to fund the economy.

Steve Anderrson
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