The relationship between South Korea & North Korea is known for their bitterness. The same goes within the Crypto World too. South Korean officials according to local reports have started to believe that their counterparts, the North Koreans have stolen millions of dollars valued to the cryptocurrencies last year. This happened when the cryptocurrency prices soared to an all-time high!
Personal Information & 8 Billion Won Stolen
As per Kyodo News reports, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) briefed the lawmakers of the country on the Cyber Crimes. NIS stated that phishing scams and other such methods resulted in tens of billions of winning in customer funds. The Kyodo News also reported that the authorities from South Korea are also investigating the possibilities of the same hackers behind the last month’s attack on Coincheck, which was a $500 million worth in cryptocurrency cyber theft. It is assumed that North Korea is keeping on trying to hack into South Korean Exchanges.
The cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb was attacked last year as reported by Coindesk a website on blockchain news. Roughly around 8 billion won in cryptocurrencies were looted in the cyber-attack along with the personal information and identities of about 30000 customers.
Phishing Emails Helped in Hacking
A South Korean parliamentarian (Intelligence Committee), Kim Byung-Kee threw light on the impact of the phishing emails to scam users. According to him as quoted to Reuters: “North Korea sent emails that could hack into Cryptocurrency exchanges and their customer’s private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won.” Kim however, has not disclosed the specifics of the exchanges which were hacked. He also mentioned that North Korea is giving out desperate attempts to rob cryptocurrencies by trying to hack into South Korean Exchanges and that the spy agencies of South Korea are aware of this problem. He also added that the spy agencies are giving their best in trying to avert and prevent such hacker trials.
North Korea has been exposed and accused several times on previous occasions of exchange hacks & scams and of futile attempts in thieving cryptocurrencies from trading sites! Last year some police cyber cell units claimed that the hackers from North Korea had tried to attack & trick about 25 employees at four exchanges with phishing attacks. However, no employee had reported as fallen into the trap!
The thievery which was attempted was first reported by the firm called FireEye which is a cybersecurity firm. Their reports were then confirmed by government officials.
Rocket-Man – The Mastermind
Kim Jong-un has been accused as the mastermind behind the cryptocurrency hacking sting and must be a fortune holder by now. The dictator Kim Jong-Un was also labeled as ‘Rocket Man’in the past by the President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump. Kim Jong’s cryptocurrency fortune is certain to have shot up in value when the bitcoin value was soaring last year and toggling between $900 to $20000!
A hacker’s team called the Lazarus Group which is in itself a mystery, has been allegedly launching attacks on South Korean Crypto Businesses! These attacks have been found out to be linked to the ‘WannaCry’ attacks which had paralyzed the NHS using virus-infected software which had caused their computers to stop functioning. Post attacking and infesting their systems with malware the ‘WannaCry’ attackers had demanded a bitcoin ransom to make the systems running again.
Research Proves North Korean Involvement
Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade and Priscilla Moriuchi are security researchers at a tech firm called Insikt Group. Their research which was recently published suggests that new hacking campaigns were launched in autumn of 2017. Called the Pyongyang campaign their agenda seemed to be hacking targets like the users of the Coinlink cryptocurrency exchange, South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges and a group named ‘Friends of MOFA’ or ‘Friends of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’. FOMOFA are a team of college students from South Korean colleges who have deep interests in foreign affairs! The hackers had hacked emails and passwords of Coinlink users which is a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange. The hackers had also got hold of resumes of South Korean computer scientists who have been working at cryptocurrency exchanges.
The researchers quoted: “This late 2017 campaign is a continuation of North Korea’s interest in cryptocurrency, which we now know encompasses a broad range of activities including mining, ransomware, and outright theft”.
North Korea is evolving as a Rogue Nation. It seems to be running after cryptocurrencies as a recluse from financial sanctions imposed on them by the United Nations. These sanctions were recently voted in by the United Nation Officials post the North Korean Nuclear Missile tests!
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