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UN report says North Korea is behind cryptocurrency hacks

A new report suggests that North Korea might have been involved in large-scale hacking attacks directed at cryptocurrency exchanges. Supposedly, the reclusive Asian nation is said to have done so in an attempt to avoid sanctions.

UN report says North Korea is behind cryptocurrency hacks

This news comes from a United Nations Security Council expert panel report, obtained by Nikkei Asian Review. Moreover, this is said to have been the first time – so far – that the Security Council panel has compiled a report of North Korea’s illegitimate cryptocurrency actions.

In addition to this, the expert panel believes that North Korea has orchestrated a number of successful attacks on Asian cryptocurrency exchanges. Specifically, North Korea is said to have carried out at least five different attacks towards cryptocurrency exchange platforms between January 2017 and September of 2018.

What’s more, the attacks have reportedly amounted to around $571 million worth of losses. Notably, this same amount was cited in a report by the cybersecurity vendor Group-IB in October last year. As such, this latest report lends some credence to Group-IB’s findings.

At the time, the North Korean hacker group known as Lazarus was speculated to be behind these attacks. However, Group-IB’s report alleged that Lazarus had stolen this amount from 14 different hacking attacks directed towards cryptocurrency exchanges.

Moreover, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) claimed in February 2018 that North Korean hackers were behind the theft of cryptocurrencies worth tens of thousands of dollars in 2017.

North Korean attacks said to be caused by the economic sanctions on the country

These North Korean attacks are likely caused – at least in part – by the economic sanctions imposed on it and its economy as a means to deter the nation’s nuclear missile program.

Cryptocurrencies allow North Korea ”more ways to evade sanctions, given that they are harder to trace, can be laundered many times and are independent from government regulation.”

Ultimately, the expert panel behind this latest report has some suggestions for UN member states, in an effort to counter future North Korean cryptocurrency hacking attacks.

Specifically, the member states are encouraged to ”enhance their ability to facilitate robust information exchange on the cyber-attacks by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with other governments and with their own financial institutions” in order to be able to stave off future attacks. Furthermore, Nikkei reports that the report will soon be shared with the UN Security Council.

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