As the U.N. pursues further sanctions against North Korea as “punishment” for launching their sixth nuclear warhead, the country is finding other ways to keep the money supply flowing.
It has been confirmed by a Singapore-based chief technology officer at FireEye that these sanctions are merely ramping up North Korea’s cybercrime activities, reports CNN, after evidence of hackers linked to the country have attempted to steal bitcoin in order to bring in money for Kim Jong Un and his regime:
FireEye says it has identified three attacks against South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges that took place between May and July, all of them linked to North Korean hackers.
The spike in activity began soon after the U.S. said it planned to ratchet up sanctions against North Korea.
Of course, with some cryptocurrencies skyrocketing in value, the potential monetary reward from the attack has risen.
North Korea has a long and storied history of hacking:
FireEye identified the North Korean group behind the bitcoin attacks as TEMP.Hermit. Other security firms have linked the group to past high-profile cyberattacks, including the hacking of Sony Pictures in 2014.
Hackers tied to North Korea are also suspected of carrying out a series of attacks on global banks that came to light last year. They included a cyberheist on Bangladesh’s central bank in which tens of millions of dollars were stolen.
Intelligence agencies and cybersecurity experts have also linked North Korea to WannaCry, the biggest cyberattack the world has ever seen. The WannaCry virus initially demanded victims pay a ransom in bitcoin, yielding more than $140,000.
However, the North Korean government has repeatedly denied involvement in international cyberattacks.
But once in possession of any one of the cryptocurrencies out there, the hackers are able to swap them into other, “more anonymous cryptocurrencies – or move them elsewhere and eventually withdraw them in traditional currencies like South Korean won or U.S. dollars”:
North Korean hackers have previously targeted South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, stealing bitcoin worth $88,000 (at the time) between 2013 and 2015, according to Yonhap News, which cited South Korean cybersecurity firm Hauri.
If you didn’t know before, now you know how North Korea plans to fund their war.