North Korean hackers aimed at bitcoin and other digital tokens. Sanctions, as well as a rapid rise in the price of bitcoin, led to the fact that cybercrime in North Korea switched from state institutions to crypto-exchange exchanges.
Companies specializing in cyber security note attempts to steal crypto currency by North Korean hackers. “The fact is that North Korea has repeatedly attacked virtual crypto-exchange exchanges around the world, we do not know how many they managed to steal, but the police confirmed attempts at hacker attacks from the DPRK,” said CNN Lee Dong-hyun, director of the state agency for security and cooperation in South Korea.
The fact that the country was interested in “attracting” virtual currencies, confirms CNN and Bryce Boland, senior technical director of the American company FireEye, dealing with cybersecurity.
The reason for the intensification of attacks on financial institutions is the desperate situation in which the DPRK is in the wake of the tightening of sanctions, which are constantly reinforced by the Trump administration. Therefore, cyber attacks on the DPRK’s crypto-currency infrastructure will intensify, experts say.
According to the September report of FireEye, hackers from North Korea managed to break the English-language news site about bitcoin and collect payments in the crypto currency of the victims of the WannaCry virus. In addition, they increased the number of attacks on the largest South Korean crypto-exchange sites.
According to FireEye employee Luke McNamara, the obvious interest of hackers to crypto-currencies comes against the background of their popularity and rising prices, as well as due to the lack of state control and anonymity.
He noted that the new UN sanctions will lead to a reduction in exports of textiles from the country by 90%, which will limit the ability of the DPRK to acquire a hard currency. This is a motivator for this kind of activity, since hacker attacks are a very cheap solution for getting cash.
FireEye confirmed at least three attacks by hackers from the DPRK since early 2017. So, she suspects them of the attack in May on the South Korean stock exchange Yapizon, which resulted in the stolen 3816 BTC.
However, according to the president of the research company Blockchain Intelligence Group Shona Ansti, bitcoin is losing popularity as the main means of paying for criminal acts and is increasingly used for illegal transactions.
Over the past year, the number of illegal transactions in darknet using bitcoin has decreased to 20%. Prior to this, the first crypto currency was used in about 50% of illegal transactions. Instead of bitcoin, the criminals switched to the Montero and the ether.
According to the analytical company Chainalysis, in 2017, the amount of funds in the currency of the Ethereum system, received as a result of illegal operations in a darknet, was $ 225 million. According to co-founder Chainalysis Jonathan Levin, the recent successful actions of law enforcement agencies “created a gap in trust” markets, where often illegal transactions are carried out using crypto-currency.
Bitcoin is discarded because information about transactions is publicly available. Users to receive payments in bitcoins should also have a public address. As a result, intelligence agencies can monitor the movement of funds and stop criminal attempts to withdraw them through such regulated organizations as exchanges or banks.
Therefore, criminals gradually began to conclude that the use of bitcoins, initially seemingly anonymous, can often create more problems than good.