In recent months, North Korea has stolen over $300 million worth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies via hacking and other sorts of mass cyberattacks.
The objective is to fund the isolated state’s illegal nuclear and ballistic missile activities, according to a recent report by France24, quoting a confidential United Nations dossier.
Today, that report is corroborated by international investigators comprised of U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials, who claim that the communist state “stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptoassets” to bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal.
In the past 10 days, North Korea’s ballistic missile launches have intensified. On Wednesday of last week, more than 5 million Japanese citizens were ordered to take urgent cover when the North launched a missile over the island of Hokkaido.
Military analysts suspect that at least a portion of this missile launch was also paid using stolen cryptocurrency.
Thousands of skilled hackers reportedly work for the North. Image: BushidoToken Threat Intel.
North Korea And Its Army Of Cyber Thieves
The North is believed to employ thousands of well-trained hackers who have assaulted South Korean businesses, organizations, and researchers. Additionally, it has been accused of using its cyber capabilities for economic reward.
According to Yonhap, a major South Korean news source, the UN Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Panel has attributed the Harmony and Ronin Bridge attacks to North Korean cyber organizations such as the Lazarus Group.
The committee said that Pyongyang’s General Bureau of Reconnaissance directly authorized the hacks.
Exploiting The Lack Of Strong Crypto Safety Nets
According to experts, North Korea is using the absence of worldwide regulatory constraints on cryptocurrencies to steal Bitcoins and other crypto in order to fund its nuclear weapons and missile projects.
Jason Bartlett, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), stated the following in an interview with the VOA Korean Service:
“Cryptocurrency offers Pyongyang a new kind of currency that is substantially less regulated and understood by national governments, financial institutions, and international organizations.”
The committee said that such breaches are so lucrative that cybercrime organizations like BlueNoroff are now focusing only on crypto theft to generate revenue.
Western nations have accused BlueNoroff of assaulting Bangladesh’s national bank in 2016.
Meanwhile, Nikkei Asia reported, citing a UN Security Council panel study, that the hermit state is in the penultimate stages of preparations for a nuclear weapons test, with actions pointing to excavation of an underground tunnel and testing of triggering mechanisms.
Crypto total market cap at $90 billion on the daily chart | Featured image from Reuters/VOA News, Source: TradingView.com