The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) has recently published a new report showing that North Korea carried multiple cyber attacks and hacks to steal over $500 million worth of cryptocurrencies from exchanges.
The report, as obtained by Japanese news publication Asian Nikkei Review notes that North Korean hackers targeted overseas financial institutions between 2015 to 2018. Also, they purportedly used the blockchain technology “to cover their tracks” and evade economic sanctions.
Between January 2017 and September 2018, North Korea has successfully managed to hack Asian cryptocurrency exchanges stealing $571 million, as per the estimates shared by the UNSC.
Circumventing Economic Sanctions
Due to its constantly growing nuclear and missile ambitions, the Replica of North Korea is facing multiple economic sanctions. Thus to circumvent the sanctions, North Korea has resorted to stealing cryptocurrencies. The U.N. panel explained:
“Cryptocurrencies] provide the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with more ways to evade sanctions, given that they are harder to trace, can be laundered many times and are independent from government regulation”.
The UNSC in its report notes that the attack on crypto exchanges was conducted by specially trained people within the North Korean military, which is a part of its government led by dictator Kim-Jong Un.
Furthermore, the report notes that since 2016, the North Korean government has created a pool of illicit funds stashed through hacking.
The United Nations panel recommends its member states to “enhance their ability to facilitate robust information exchange on the cyberattacks by North Korea with other governments and with their own financial institutions”.
According to the Nikkei report, the blockchain technology was previously leveraged by Hong-Kong-based startup Marine Chain to help North Korea circumvent economic sanctions. The publication notes that the startup traded ships across the globe using blockchain and was suspected of supplying cryptocurrencies to the North Korean government.
Last year in February 2018, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) also reported loss of millions of dollars from its local crypto exchanges attributing it to the hacks from North Korea in 2017.