During a parliamentary meeting, South Korea’s national intelligence agency reported that it was North Korean hackers who perpetrated the heist on January 24th. Hackers managed to walk away with an estimated $530 million dollars’ worth of NEM tokens from the Japanese exchange platform Coincheck. This information has been provided to us by Reuters, although it cites anonymous sources.
The Biggest Crypto-Heist in History
In the past, North Korea has been accused of hacking South Korean platforms and carrying out illegal crypto-mining operations thanks to internet users who had no idea what was going on behind their backs. However, this recent theft would be the largest cryptocurrency heist to this day.
In fact, on January 26th, 2018, Coincheck, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, made the announcement that it had been hacked and that perpetrators had stolen more than 520 million units of XEM. In the end, this theft ended up affecting a total of 260 of their clients’ portfolios.
This piracy even outdoes another cyber-attack that affected the Japanese exchange known as Mt. Gox in 2014. The latter ended having to go out of business after hackers walked away with about $480 million USD.
Coincheck, for its part, acknowledges that it did not have the most stringent security measures in place and stated that they would be using their own resources to reimburse its clients whose funds were stolen.
After the hacking took place, Japanese authorities are now saying they will conducting investigations to detect any other vulnerabilities on all exchange platforms operating within their borders.
North Korea Vs UN Sanctions
It is important to keep in mind that North Korea has been struggling under pressures from sanctions imposed by the United Nations. These sanctions prevent the country from exporting coal, maritime products and even clothing.
Obviously, this has had a devastating impact on North Korea’s economy which saw a huge trade deficit with China in 2017. According to South Korea’s intelligence agency, the deficit is estimated to be at about $1.96 million.
According to a member of parliament, South Korea’s intelligence agency also accused North Korea of stealing approximately $9.18 billion dollars from a South Korean exchange platform.
North Korea could, therefore, be resorting to computer hacking to be able to lessen the deficit since the UN’s sanctions have put the country in a rather precarious situation.
So, as it stands, North Korea is innocent until proven guilty. And, for now we will just have to wait until more evidence turns up to see who the real hackers are behind the crime.