North Korean Hackers Move Onto Attacking Individuals After Exchanges Boost Security

The CEO of cybersecurity firm Cuvepia declared that his company detected over 30 attacks on crypto-bearing individuals probably carried out by North Korean hackers, English-language media site South China Morning Post reports Nov. 29.

Kwon Seok-Chul, the CEO of the aforementioned South Korean cybersecurity company, said that the new targets of the suspected North Korean cyberattacks “are just simple wallet users investing in cryptocurrency.” He then added that many cases probably haven’t been detected, and that there may have been well over 100 attacks.

As the article states, the “targeting of individuals holding virtual currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) marks a departure from its previous methods.” As Cointelegraph reported this October, North Korea allegedly backed two cryptocurrency scams this year: hacks funded by the country reportedly comprise of 65% of all cryptocurrency stolen to date.

Simon Choi, founder of cyber warfare research company IssueMakersLab, attributes the shift towards attacking individuals to cybersecurity enhancements by exchanges and financial institutions:

“Direct attacks on exchanges have become harder, so hackers are thinking about alternatively going after individual users with weak security.”

Choi also said that most targets have been wealthy South Koreans since “they believe that if they target CEOs of wealthy firms and heads of organisations” then “they can take advantage of billions of won in virtual currencies.”

According to Luke McNamara, an analyst at cybersecurity company FireEye, “it’s possible from previous intrusions they’ve been able to collect information” about “people using these [cryptocurrency] exchanges.”

McNamara explained that “when they understand and know the targets” then “they are able to craft lures specific to those organisations or entities.” He added that this makes them “effective at what they are doing.”

As Cointelegraph reported, Kaspersky Labs claims that North Korean hacker collective Lazarus Group used the “first” macOS malware to hack a crypto exchange. Experts have also argued that North Korea increasingly uses cryptocurrencies to avoid U.S. sanctions.

Author: Adrian Zmudzinski
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North Korea is Using Cryptocurrency to Evade U.S. Sanctions: Experts

Two Washington-based financial experts say that North Korea is increasingly using cryptocurrency to evade U.S. Sanctions.

According to Lourdes Miranda, a financial crimes investigator specialized in intelligence collection and analysis, and Ross Delston, an expert witness who specializes in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, Pyongyang is creating its own cryptocurrency and is likely also using popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies are being preferred by international criminals and for terrorist financing, and the country of North Korea is no exception, the duo said in a written statement to Asia Times. They said:

“Crypto-currencies have the added advantage to the DPRK of giving them more ways to circumvent US sanctions.”

They added, “They can do so by using multiple international exchangers, mixing and shifting services – mirroring the money laundering cycle – to exploit international financial institutions that have correspondent banking relationships with the United States.”

According to Priscilla Moriuchi, a former NSA cybersecurity official, North Korea is earning around $15 million to $200 million by mining and selling cryptocurrencies. Speaking to The Hill earlier this year, Moriuchi said:

“North Korea has pursued other avenues for obtaining cryptocurrencies as well, including mining of both bitcoin and Monero, ransom paid in bitcoin from the global WannaCry attack in May and even commissioning a cryptocurrency class for North Korean students in November.”

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Now, per the Asia Times report, Miranda and Delston stated that North Korea could use the most popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, or the country’s government could create its own.

“Having their own crypto-currency would also facilitate their ability to open online accounts under the guise of a non-adversarial nation using anonymous communication to conceal the user’s locations and usage on the internet,” they stated.

The researchers also said that the country would create its own blockchain in order to alter their public record of transactions to show that these transactions are coming from legitimate sources. Further, the country would create its own cryptocurrency wallet services.

Explaining about the making of successful exchange of crypto into fiat currencies — all the while undetected — the pair said that North Korean-mined cryptocurrencies would be laundered onto European exchanges, enabling the rogue nation to obtain USD “with none of those pesky sanctions attached.” The investigators are not sure about the current scale of North Korea’s crypto-currency operation.

As CCN reported, America’s rivals including Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela have recently turned to cryptocurrencies in order to counter economic pressure from the U.S. and its allies.

For example, the petro, an oil-backed cryptocurrency announced by Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, was banned in the United States. Earlier in May, President Trump issued an executive order banning American citizens from buying, trading, or dealing with the petro cryptocurrency “in light of recent actions taken by the Maduro regime to attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions by issuing a digital currency.”

Also, Iran has recently revealed the details of its national cryptocurrency in response to U.S.-led economic sanctions. Iran’s future cryptocurrency is allegedly backed by the fiat Rial and is developed on the Linux Foundation-led open-source Hyperledger Fabric technology, the report said.

Author: Sujha Sundararajan 
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North Korea Greets The Crypto Industry With An International Conference

North Korea Plans “Korean International Blockchain Conference”

It is common knowledge that the reach of the cryptocurrency industry spans from the northernmost tip of Canada, right to the heart of South Africa. And although crypto has roots in nearly every country, nation, and region, many would fail to believe that crypto has garnered adoption in North Korea, which has become known for its nature as a so-called ‘hermit kingdom.’

However, the Asian country has apparently adopted cryptocurrencies in stride, recently revealing that it would be hosting a blockchain and crypto-centric conference. According to the Straits Times, a Singapore-based news outlet, North Korea plans to host a Pyongyang-based (NK Capital) conference regarding cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in October of this year.


Citing South Korean outlet Yonhap, Straits Times reported noted that the conference, named the “Korean International Blockchain Conference,” would be held over a two-day period starting on October the 1st. RFA, yet another news agency, reported that following the full length of the conference, North Korea intends to bring world-renowned blockchain and cryptocurrencies experts into the same room to meet with NK business executives.

It was added that this meeting, set to occur on October 3rd, will not be one-sided, with North Korea reportedly intending to show its prowess in the field of decentralized ledger technologies.


Skepticism & Confusion

While the country, headed by Kim Jong-Un, seems to have high hopes for this conference, some critics remain skeptical about the possibility that this conference will see success. The original report breaking this topic made no mention of any solid logistics, which is worrisome, to say the least.

It is unclear who is going to speak at the conference, or how the country’s travel bans will be dealt with. These factors only go to show that North Korea may not be ready to host such a conference.

Others seem to be critical of the country’s ‘prowess’ in crypto and related technological advancements. As per a recent report from Yonhap, the aforementioned South Korean news outlet, North Korea has tried mining cryptocurrencies but has subsequently failed. Citing a report from South Korea’s Development Bank, North Korea tried to mine Bitcoin sometime between May and July of last year but were met with little success.

The report alludes to the fact that North Korea intended to garner cryptocurrency holdings to bypass sanctions placed on the country, likely to further build its nuclear arsenal that is widely touted as North Korea’s greatest achievement.

Some believe that the local government has ulterior motives for hosting this conference. As reported by Ethereum World News previously, a North Korea-based hacker group, dubbed “Lazarus,” have “successfully compromised several banks and infiltrated a number of global cryptocurrency exchanges and fintech companies.” While it hasn’t been confirmed, some speculate that the seemingly crypto-focused Lazarus group has ties to the government. Taking this into account, some believe that many the conference is just any medium for North Korea to gather the knowledge it needs to bypass sanctions even further.

So only time will tell if this conference will pan out as it is supposed to.


Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

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What would a more open North Korea mean for investors?


Focus on relations between Pyongyang and the world

President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un might soon face each other across a negotiating table. Aside from all the usual questions about whether it will actually happen and whether North Korea might really get rid of its nuclear weapons, investors are left wondering what this might mean for them.

Despite talk of peninsula reunification, the most sensible first step would be for the North to stand alone as a normal country in its own right. This would serve the interests of all its neighbours and the US and is probably the most sensible first goal.

There is a tendency to think that any rapprochement would bring bills for South Korea akin to those borne by Germany during its reunification period.

However, the precedent set in Myanmar shows that supra-national agencies can (and will) pour money into infrastructure, health and connectivity, while companies bring factories and legitimate hard-currency earnings.

Benefits for South Korea

Not that the governments of China and South Korea would be reluctant to invest though. South Korea needs contracts for its heavy industrial companies, hit hard by the collapse of both the global shipping cycle and oil prices in recent years.

The South has a rapidly ageing population, where the rate of deaths now exceeds births, while 68% of the North’s population is of working age, with an average life expectancy of 69.

Of course, youthful workers would come at a cost – training is expected to be expensive, but with mobile phones, intranet and e-payments already prolific in the North, training the workforce will not start from a knowledge base as low as in Myanmar.

For some companies, the attractions are obvious: the North has abundant resources of both coal and iron ore, which the South might legitimately help to develop (using South Korean machinery) in return for discounted commodities.

Consumer goods should benefit too – demand for South Korean branded goods and snacks is likely to rise sharply in the North as soon as they are allowed, while families divided by the war are likely to want to take car-loads of goods to relatives in the North.

As online shopping already allows North Koreans to buy imported goods and food on the national intranet, distribution may be easier than might be imagined.

Boost for Chinese regions

Nor will South Korea be the only beneficiary. China’s North Eastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang are reeling from the loss of heavy industrial jobs, after China’s shift to cleaner industry bit hard, and new customers would be welcome.

More tangentially, the South’s decision to buy the US’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defence missile system in 2017 led China to embargo Korean goods of all sorts, so rapprochement may lead to détente – and returning profits too.

There is no discernible timescale for all of this yet. Things are moving very rapidly, but could accelerate like the fall of the Berlin Wall, or collapse back into near or actual hostility – and it is far too early to buy anything purely for North Korean upside.

We own many companies which stand to benefit if the North finally opens up, but they were bought on a sound investment case that does not rely on a boost from the North.


Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!


Author Sally Macdonald

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