UN: North Korea Accumulating Cryptocurrency For Weapons Programs
A recent report by the United Nations has revealed that North Korea has amassed billions of dollars for its weapons programs. The loot has been pilfered from cyber-attacks and cryptocurrency exchange hacks according to the confidential dossier.
Cryptocurrency Exchanges Hacked
According to Reuters, a United Nations report has exposed that the despotic regime has accumulated as much as $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction projects. The findings to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee added Pyongyang
… continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch. [And continues to] launder stolen proceeds and create income to avoid international sanctions.
The draft report has been compiled by a panel of independent experts monitoring sanctions compliance over the past six months. It continued, stating that state sponsored cyber criminals launched increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal assets from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.
The Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is believed to be behind the cyber-attacks, is a top North Korean military intelligence agency. The report added that crypto exchanges were targeted because shifting funds from them is harder to detect;
at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency in some 17 countries.
Lazarus On The Attack
This time last year it was reported that the Lazarus hacking group had resurfaced with new software that targeted cryptocurrency traders. The malware once installed opened a series of back doors allowing remote access. Dubbed AppleJeus, it targeted MacOS much to the chagrin of Apple aficionados who believe their products are immune from such incursions.
US president Trump visited the autocratic nation and its leader Kim Jong Un in June, however talks failed to reach conclusion. A raft of sanctions is still in place which has forced Pyongyang to seek alternative methods of evading them and funding its weapons programs. A US State Department spokeswoman issued a call to arms in response to the report.
We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.
South Korea has also repeatedly accused the North of cyber-attacks and cryptocurrency exchange hacks.
A report released earlier this year from the UK’s Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) also confirmed an increase in nefarious online activity from the regime. Cryptocurrency has been highlighted as the financial vehicle of choice and exchanges in Southeast Asia were advised to be more vigilant with security practices and KYC procedures.
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