According to a new report published by Recorded Future, North Korea is intensifying its efforts to mine Monero (XMR); a privacy-focused digital currency. Moreover, the report claims that the Asian country is expanding its Monero operations to help escape international sanctions.
The current North Korea regime has been making the headlines recently on cryptocurrency-related matters; ranging from scam and digital currency theft accusations. The country has been hit with several sanctions by the United States and other European nations for refusing to suspend the nuclear and missiles program. In particular, North Korea president Kim Jung Un has faced accusations of stealing and using cryptocurrencies illegally to fund the nuclear weapon program.
Moreover, the report by the cyber-security threat analysis company claims that internet usage in North Korea has risen significantly over the last three years. The report goes on to say that a significant part of this activity involves Monero mining. Monero is an open-source privacy-oriented digital coin that was launched back in 2014. The coin is unique due to its decentralized and anonymous nature.
However, in the current North Korea regime, the use of the internet is restricted to only the elite class and political officials. The reports of increased network usage and cryptocurrency mining are quite fascinating. The report only focuses on the global network accessible to such parties. The report highlights:
“For the North Korean political and military elite, the 2019 data show that the internet is not simply a fascination or leisure activity, but is a critical tool for revenue generation, gaining access to prohibited technologies and knowledge, and operational coordination.”
Why the Sudden Interest in Monero by North Korea?
Could the privacy features be the catalyst behind the increase in Monero interest in North Korea? Well, reports have been circulating that North Korea hacking groups have been targeting Western corporations and cryptocurrency investors. The malicious groups have especially targeted South Korean exchange firms.
Well, the country was initially involved in both Bitcoin and Monero mining. However, as of May 2019, the Asian country forged a plan to rapidly intensify its Monero mining operations. Fair enough, this is linked to the anonymity of Monero as the currency has aided North Korea in evading financial scrutiny and control. Unlike Bitcoin, Monero transactions are well encrypted. The details of both the sender and receiver are well protected. As of Bitcoin, anyone can access transactions. The report reads:
“We have observed an at least tenfold increase in Monero mining activity from North Korean IP ranges since May 2019. We believe that Monero’s anonymity and lower processing power requirements likely make Monero more attractive than Bitcoin to North Korean users.’’
Is North Korea Investing in Monero to Avoid Sanctions?
Moving forward, the latest report published by Recorded Future, accuses the current regime of several engagements in cryptocurrency-related cyber crimes. As per the report, this has empowered North Korea to collect stolen digital assets; and be in a position to provide the necessary infrastructure for cryptocurrency mining.
According to reports, the focus on Monero by North Korea is all due to its privacy features. The country is investing hard to ensure transactions and other related information will stay anonymous; particularly to the United States and the United Nations Security Council that had imposed the sanctions.
In conclusion, North Korea even considered developing its own cryptocurrency to potentially evade U.S. sanctions. Former Ethereum developer, Virgil Griffith was indicted by the United States for conspiring with North Korea to avoid sanctions.