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UN Claims North Korea has Stolen $2 Billion in Cryptocurrency

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August 6, 2019 | 

754 Views | 

Darryn Pollock | 

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It has been long known, and well established, that North Korea has been using cryptocurrency as a way to fund itself that is removed from the global monetary system in which they face massive sanctions. 

The way in which the country has been coming across this cryptocurrency has, however, been less than savoury. Now, it has emerged that North Korean hackers have earned an estimated $2 billion from their work, according to the UN; this figure is far bigger than first thought. 

The hackers have allegedly been targeting financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges while it is also added that North Korea used these hackers to launder stolen proceeds and create income to avoid international sanctions.

This is concerning for many as it is believed, by investigators, that these funds could be used for weapons programs which the sanctions are intended to stop.

Famous hackers

The North Korean hacking effort has been in the news a few times over the last couple of years. However, the UN has now released its report on the program and is astounded as to how much they believe has been stolen.

One well-known hacking group,Lazarus, has been on the radar for sometime now, especially after their attack on a Bangladeshi bank which netted them $81 million in 2017. This same group started pivoting to cryptocurrency when, in 2018, they were using software, laced with malware, that could open backdoors to the systems allowing changes to be controlled remotely by these hackers.

In fact, research soon emerged in late 2018 that the Lazarus hacking group was responsible for five out of 14 attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges that occurred between February 2017 and September 2018.

Mining hacks

The funds that the hackers have accumulated have not only been through hacking and stealing funds from exchanges and other institutions. South Korea has accused its neighbour to the North of implementing cryptocurrency mining software to siphon off funds. 

This ‘crypto-jacking’ as it was coined, was implemented by a number of other websites and individuals through 2018 at its peak, but it was used to great effect by the North Koreans, allegedly.

Additional tension

Slightly removed from the world of cryptocurrency, North Korea, the US and China are playing their parts in causing global political uncertainty which may be driving the price of Bitcoin. North Korea has recently released missiles which were part of an agreement with US President Donald Trump.

However, the US and China are embroiled in a trade war which ahs seen both their currencies take a potential hit with policies enacted to try and stave off a potential economic downturn. These political and macro economic factors could well be the reason that Bitcoin has gained almost $3,000 in the last 10 days.

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