An United Nations (U.N.) confidential report has brought forward that North Korean hackers targeted cryptocurrency exchanges and other financial institutions to raise funds for weapons programs.
A panel of independent experts monitoring U.N. sanctions created the report and it was presented to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee last week. It claims that North Korea has used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” hacks to collect roughly $2 billion, which is laundered over the web.
The experts are reportedly looking into “at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency” in around 17 nations. Many of North Korea’s hackers operate under the Reconnaissance General Bureau, an intelligence agency that handles clandestine operations.
“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programmes, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion U.S. dollars.”
North Korean hackers attacked crypto exchanges mainly because of its anonymity and less stringent regulations when compared to funds that move through the traditional banking sector.
In March, the rogue nation had used cryptocurrency exchanges to bypass economic sanctions and obtain foreign currency.
South Korean intelligence has been blaming North Korea for attacks on several exchanges since last year. Leading South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb has been hacked two times over the last few months. The first time, in June of 2018, hackers stole $31.5 million worth of various cryptocurrencies, while in the second incident, in March of this year, they stole over 3 million EOS from its hot wallet.
North Korean hackers are also being suspected to be behind the massive hack of Japan’s Coincheck exchange, which led to the theft of more than $500 million in cryptocurrency.