Is North Korea behind recent Cryptocurrency attacks?

South Korea to ban cryptocurrency soon

north korea hackers
A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017 Dado Ruvic/File Photo/Reuters

According to a research conducted by Cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, it has been learned that a North Korean hacking outfit associated with the Sony Pictures Entertainment data theft is directly involved in the South Korean cryptocurrency attack which took place during the end of 2017.

Recorded Future revealed that the cryptocurrency attack was similar to that used in the Sony Pictures hack, the dreaded WannaCry attack, and the cyber heist that hit the Central Bank of Bangladesh. The cybersecurity firm believes that the South Koren attack was carried out by a hacking group named Lazarus which has close ties with Pyongyang.

During the WannaCry attack, victims were forced to pay hackers in bitcoins, and the late 2017 campaign clearly indicates the Kim Jong-un led regime's obsession towards cryptocurrencies. According to financial experts, most of the cryptocurrencies are designed in such a way that it operates outside the control of Governments, and this is one of the major points which attracted North Korea towards bitcoin.

Following the attack, the owner of the bitcoin exchange said that it would initiate bankruptcy proceedings as the hacking claimed 17 percent of its total assets.

"This late-2017 campaign is a continuation of North Korea's interest in cryptocurrency, which we now know encompasses a broad range of activities including mining, ransomware, and outright theft," read the Recorded Future report.

As North Korea is busy amassing cryptocurrencies, South Korean may soon consider clamping down on cryptocurrency trading within the country's border.

"As South Korean exchanges harden their networks and the government imposes stricter regulatory controls on cryptocurrencies, exchanges and users in other countries should be aware of the increased threat level from North Korean actors," warns Recorded Future.

Even though cybersecurity firms like Recorded Future has continuously alleged North Korea for conducting hacking programs, Pyongyang has repeatedly denied these allegations. However, the country has many times opened up about its interest in cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin.

This article was first published on January 17, 2018