South Korean Intelligence Claims North Korea Still Hacking Computers to Mine Crypto
South Korean intelligence services report that North Korea is continuing to hack computers worldwide to mine cryptocurrency. Additional reports from the state intelligence agency reveal that the North Koreans are still actively stealing confidential information from its neighbors to the south.
North Korea’s Crypto Mining Malware
North Korea’s first iteration of its crypto mining malware was detected back in January by a US cybersecurity firm. Evidence suggested that the North Korean hackers were forwarding hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illicitly mined Monero to Kim Il Sung University in the country’s capital of Pyongyang. Amidst tightening global trade restrictions against the hermit country, the North Korean’s appear to have no intent on lessening their dependence on illegally mined crypto revenue.
Meanwhile, the Korean National Intelligence Service is preparing to visit North Korea to examine its Punggyeri nuclear test site. North Korea has promised to begin the dismantlement of the site as part of a mutual denuclearization effort between the two countries. Numerous international journalists have been invited to attend the event. The terms of the dismantlement effort were negotiated between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a recent summit meeting.
In early October, CNN reported that the North Korean government uses a network of cyber-criminals on behalf on Kim Jong Un’s regime. A report delivered from a cyber-security watch dog stated that this group has attempted to steal over $1.1 billion in “particularly aggressive” attacks on global banks.
“Fifteen or even 10 years ago, when analyzing potential blowback to US sanctions on North Korea or US-South Korean military exercises, there was never a consideration of the Kim regime’s ability to target the US economy,” said Samantha Ravich, senior adviser and Principal Investigator of FDD’s cyber-enabled economic warfare (CEEW) project. “Now, North Korea has one of the most capable and aggressive cyberoperations. Facing intense US economic sanctions, Pyongyang may consider using its cybercapabilities to attack the US economy.”