A new report by the FireEye security firm claims North Korea is trying to amass a bitcoin cache as a hedge against financial and commodity sanctions imposed on the country.
“Sanctions against North Korea are likely to fuel their cybercrime activity,” said Bryce Boland, Singapore-based chief technology officer with FireEye. “Attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges can be a great vehicle to obtain what is ultimately hard currency.”
North Korea has long been accused of rogue hacking operations, activities which the state denies. But recent activity on nodes in the country indicate it has been ramping up mining activities, and the recent UN sanctions may also spur its hacking attacks.
The FireEye report identifies three alleged North Korean attacks against South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges in May and July. The hacking group was identified as TEMP.Hermit, a team which other security firms have blamed for such prominent attacks as the Sony Pictures infiltration and the Bangladesh central bank, the latter with tens of millions in crucial reserves missing. Some firms have also blamed North Korea for WannaCry, the global virus that demanded ransom in bitcoins.