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Tag: north Korea

North Korea may have as made much as $200 million from Bitcoin, according to expert

North Korea may have as made much as $200 million from Bitcoin, according to expert

North Korea may have as made much as $200 million from Bitcoin, according to expert

North Korea may have raked in more than $200 million in digital cryptocurrency transactions last year, diluting the impact of stiff international sanctions over its nuclear and missiles programme.

The huge haul of an estimated 11,000 Bitcoins was revealed by Priscilla Moriuchi, a former US National Security Agency officer, in an interview with Radio Free Asia.

If the regime had monetised them when their price peaked in mid-December, it would have made $210 million, although that value had fallen to $120m by January.

Ms Moriuchi, who now works for cyber threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, believes the cryptocurrency was acquired through mining or hacking.

Financial security experts believe North Korea is using virtual coin markets to inject cash into its flagging economy, which is struggling under the weight of severe international sanctions.

“I would bet that these coins are being turned into something — currency or physical goods — that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme,” Ms Moriuchi told Vox.com.

The reclusive regime has already been blamed for some of the world’s most audacious cyber crimes. In December, the US confirmed that it was behind May’s WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.

North Korean hackers have also been accused of plundering the Bank of Bangladesh in 2015, transferring about $81 million into bank accounts in the Philippines.

picEvidence suggests hacker cells have operational hubs in foreign locations. Ms Moriuchi told the Telegraph in a December interview that Recorded Future was probing whether North Korean hackers were operating out of several countries that included China and India.

Recent reports have revealed that a state-sponsored cyber army may also be evolving beyond the targeting of traditional banking systems to focus on the lucrative potential of plundering cryptocurrencies.

In December suspected North Korean hackers targeted a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, stealing at least $7m worth of digital money and forcing one company, Youbit, into bankruptcy.

Pyongyang consistently denies all hacking allegations. However, cyber security experts and defectors have claimed that promising students are handpicked from prestigious universities to join Bureau 121, the hermit kingdom’s shadowy cyberwarfare agency.

In November, it was reported that the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was teaching a specialised cryptocurrency course.

Citing cyber security expert, Jeremy Samide, she points out that cryptocurrencies make it easier to trade in weapons, drugs and other illicit goods. North Korea stands accused of using digital money to sell arms and buy oil from Iran and Libya.

While Pyongyang is feeling the pressure of broad US sanctions including a recent crackdown on shipping companies allegedly helping the regime, experts like Ms Moriuchi believe the international community should also increase regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges.

“That helps create a paper trail we can use to identify North Korean accounts and how North Korea is moving these currencies,” she told Vox.com.

Experts have warned that a cryptocurrency, with its anonymity, loose regulations and ability to be converted into hard currency, also offers rogue regimes like North Korea more opportunities to profit from crime.

In her recently released book, North Korea, the Country We Love to Hate, Economist Loretta Napoleoni, a terrorist financing and money-laundering expert, concludes that the country is already “ensconsed” in cryptocurrencies and most likely using it for money-laundering.

 

Author: Nicola Smith, taipei 5 MARCH 2018 • 4:10AM

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Is North Korea Stocking Up on Bitcoin?

Is North Korea Stocking Up on Bitcoin?
 

Three security firms have reported a connection between WannaCry ransomware and malware used by the Lazarus group, a cyber crime group made up of unknown individuals.

Google security researcher Neel Mehta tweeted sample hashes from the WannaCry ransomware and the Contopee backdoor, which had previously been employed by the shadowy Lazarus Group. The group is responsible for the Sony hack, the SWIFT bank attacks, as well as other attacks on financial institutions. Some experts posit they hail from the North Korean government, but hard evidence is lacking.

Still, three security firms — Kaspersky Lab, Symantec, and BAE Systems — claim there could be a connection between North Korea’s Lazarus Group and WannaCry. To be sure, the groups are not exactly concluding that North Korea is behind WannaCry. The connections are pretty light, including but code written in C++ and compiled in Visual Studio 6.0. Comae found connections to North Korea, as well.

“The implementation of this [random buffer generator] function is very unique,” according to Sergcks Ongoing?

Europol’s chief told BBC the ransomware was designed to enable “infection of one computer to quickly spread across the networks…That’s why we’re seeing these numbers increasing all the time.”

She added: “Even if a fresh attack does not materialise on Monday, we should expect it soon afterwards.”

The ransomware, reformatted after MalwareTech’s solution, has been spread by individuals copying the attack. “We are in the second wave,” Matthieu Suiche of Comae Technologies, tells the New York Times earlier in the week. “As expected, the attackers have released new variants of the malware. We can surely expect more.”

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith on Sunday lambasted governments over the weekend for hoarding information about security flaws in computer systems instead of cooperating with multinational companies. He wrote:

Microsoft, which had to create a patch for Windows XP (they haven’t provided support for the OS since 2014), released a statement addressing how they are trying to undermine the attackers ability to exploit their systems. They also have choice words for the U.S. government.
 

“This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem. This is an emerging pattern in 2017. We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world. Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage.

An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen. And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today — nation-state action and organized criminal action.

The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call.”

If North Korea is behind the WannaCry attacks, then its raised less than $100,000 via the ransomware’s bitcoin bounty.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member