North Korea reportedly utilising hacking groups to perform crypto heists

March 29, 2020

By Anjali Kochhar

The North Korean government is raising money by using hacking groups to perform crypto heists, ​​says a notable cybersecurity firm.

According to a new article by internet security company Mandiant, North Korea is going after financial institutions and companies that provide services related to cryptocurrencies, perceived defectors, media organizations and bloggers, shifting its focus from stealing Covid-19 vaccines.

“This increase in responsibilities indicates the group has quickly gained the confidence of DPRK’s (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) senior leadership and likely gained prominence,” the article reads.

“The country’s espionage operations are believed to be reflective of the regime’s immediate concerns and priorities, which is likely currently focused on acquiring financial resources through crypto heists, targeting of media, news, and political entities, information on foreign relations and nuclear information, and a slight decline in the once spiked stealing of Covid-19 vaccine research.”

As per the cybersecurity firm, North Korea is likely using the stolen money to fund the development of vaccines and weapons and to sidestep the sanctions placed on them by the United States and other countries.

“Information collected in these campaigns will possibly be used to develop or produce internal items and strategies, such as vaccines, mitigations to bypass sanctions, funding for the country’s weapons programs, and so on.”

The firm continues to collect additional information to determine the extent to which these groups operate and streamline their operations.

Earlier in January, a report claimed that North Korean hackers stole almost $400m (£291m) worth of digital assets in at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms last year.

“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40%,” another blockchain research firm Chainalysis said in a report.

 


About the author

Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.

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