North Korea has managed to steal $2bn from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges through a series of cyberattacks aimed at helping fund its nuclear and missile programs, according to a new confidential report from the United Nations.
The report, compiled by independent experts monitoring compliance over the past six months, was submitted to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee last week.
The experts explained how North Korea “used cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income”. These stolen funds were then laundered over the Internet to prevent detection.
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Many of the cyber actors behind these attacks were operating under the direction of the country's Reconnaissance General Bureau which is one of North Korea's top military intelligence agencies.
North Korea cyberattacks
The experts who put together the report said they are investigating “at least 35 reported instances of DPRK actors attacking financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and mining activity designed to earn foreign currency” in 17 countries.
The reason the cyber actors targeted cryptocurrency exchanges is because it allowed them “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation that the traditional banking sector”
When Reuters asked a US State department spokesperson about the U.N. Report, they said: “We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”
Sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since 2006 as a way of trying to limit funding to the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It has become increasingly difficult for the country to raise capital which is why it likely turned to cybercrime as a means of doing so.
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