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Hide Yo Crypto, North Korean Hackers Now Targeting Individuals
Thursday, November 29, The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has reported WATCH OUT. NORTH KOREAN HACKERS ARE COMING FOR YOUR BITCOIN, detailing recent shifts in North Korean hacking targets, from large, established exchanges to individual investors.
North Korea, in a bid to avoid international sanctions, have been adoptive of cryptocurrency, but tending to malicious use-cases. According to reports made by Group-IB in October, North Korea-Sponsored hacks comprise 65 percent of total crypto stolen. Group-IB is a computer forensics and information security organization partnered with both Interpol and Europol, specializing in prevention and investigation of high-tech crimes and online fraud.
While crypto publications have been reporting on the exploits of North Korean hackers, such as the infamous group, dubbed “Lazarus”, which is responsible for the theft of over half a billion dollars in cryptocurrency since 2017, typically these hacks have been contained to whale-like targets.
As quoted in SCMP, Simon Choi, a senior researcher at Seoul-based anti-virus software firm Hauri, “Previously, hackers directly attacked exchanges, they targeted staff at the exchanges, but now they are attacking cryptocurrency users directly.” Choi believes ever-tightening sanctions have led to this wider cast of potential victims, he continues, “With the US, the UN and others imposing sanctions on the North Korean economy, North Korea is in a difficult position economically, and cryptography has come to be seen as a good opportunity.”
Choi also suggests shifting targets may be due to crypto exchanges tightening security in response to the devastating hacks of 2017 and early 2018, “They’ve already had successes and are continuing to progress, but during that time, the exchanges have become used to the attacks and boosted their security somewhat,” Choi said. “Direct attacks on exchanges have become harder, so hackers are thinking about alternatively going after individual users with weak security.”
North Korea is widely thought to have cultivated one of the most formidable hacking armies in the world under its shadowy spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. As reported in Wired, the U.S. Department of Justice, in September, charged a North Korean hacker for the 2014 Sony Pictures hack and the 2016 Bangladeshi ransomware attack, WannaCry. Park Jin Hyok, 34, is said to a North Korean spy sponsored by the government. His attacks affected the NHS in the U.K. among, reportedly, more than 150 other countries.