North Korea has been behind significant cryptocurrency exchange hacks in an attempt to circumvent economic sanctions as well as obtaining foreign currency. According to the UN Security Council, the country has stolen $571 million from Asian crypto exchanges via the cyber attacks.
Crypto Exchanges Alongside Financial Institutions Hacked
According to Nikkei Asian Review that claims to receive the panel’s report, North Korea has been undertaking the dubious business on overseas financial companies from 2015, but it’s between January 2017 and September 2018 that the country made most of its money.
A panel of experts revealed to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee that the nation had hacked a total of $670 million in cryptocurrency and foreign exchange between 2015 and 2018.
The report indicates that several Asian cryptocurrency exchanges were hacked by North Korea at least five times. Interestingly, the attacks have been associated with being carried out by professional military units which are an essential part of the country’s government policy.
Unfortunately, it’s still unknown that who the victims of the attacks were, but among the ones that do come first in mind is the Japanese exchange Coincheck which was attacked in January last year and suffered a loss of about $530 million. Also, in September last year, another cryptocurrency exchange, Zaif, got attacked and lost $60 million.
Furthermore, neighbors South Korea had an attack as well that is believed to be executed by North Korea. The hack saw personal information of 10 million users of the e-commerce platform Interpark being compromised. Moreover, a ransom worth of $2.7 million was eventually paid in exchange for the stolen data.
It could be hard to argue against the likelihood that the attacks from North Korea are as a result of the tough economic times the country is undergoing. The UN and the US placed economic sanctions for about 15 years now due to its nuclear program launch.
The panel’s report has seen that a reason for North Korea to hack crypto exchanges for garnering more funds during this desperate time and consequently circumvent sanctions as they are difficult to prosecute, able to be washed several times, and apparently independent of the government regulations.
The North Korea hacking appears to represent a big problem for the UN with the report stressing the need for an action calling the nations to strengthen their ability in promoting information exchange with various governments as well as domestic financial institutions to counter North Korea’s attacks.
Overall, it’s an exciting development. Various countries such as Iran and Russia have looked to bypass economic sanctions using cryptocurrencies. Maybe it’s the start of a new policy for all the nations, or perhaps we’re looking at the commencement of cyber wars. But whatever the case would be, it’s an exciting (yes, not so positive though) move that exchanges, as well as others, have to watch their back.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.
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