UN probes 35 North Korean cyber-attacks

The United Nations (U.N.) says it’s investigating North Korea over allegations of at least 35 instances of cyber-attacks in over 15 countries. The country is said to have raised at least $2 billion from the attacks, with most of the proceeds going to the production of weapons of mass destruction. State-sponsored hackers have targeted funds in SWIFT transfers as well as crypto exchanges.

According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), the East Asian country has targeted 17 countries. Citing a summary of a report by experts to the U.N’s Security Council, AP revealed that South Korea was the hardest hit with over 10 attacks targeting the country. India came second with three attacks, with Bangladesh and Chile each having suffered two attacks from the North Korean hackers.

Thirteen countries suffered one attack each, among them Poland, South Africa, Liberia, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Nigeria and Malta.

According to the report, the hackers target three main revenue channels. The first is by conducting attacks through the SWIFT system which most banks use to transfer money internationally. The hackers also attack cryptocurrency exchanges and individual crypto users as well. The final channel is through the mining of cryptos.

North Korea has favored these tactics as not only are they easy, they are also cost effective. All a hacker needs is a laptop and an internet connection, making the attacks “low risk and high yield.”

The report revealed that in one unnamed country, the hackers attacked one crypto exchange and sent the stolen funds “through at least 5,000 separate transactions and further routed to multiple countries before eventual conversion to currency that a government has declared legal money, making it highly difficult to track the funds.”

Bithumb has been the biggest individual victim, the experts believe, with the exchange suffering at least four attacks in the past two years. The first two attacks led to the loss $7 million each, with the third attack seeing the exchange lose $31 million. The latest attack, which took place in March this year led to the loss of at least $20 million.

The experts were also investigating instances of cryptojacking, where the hackers infect victims’ computers with malware and use it to mine crypto, usually Monero. In one instance cited by the group, the mined Monero was sent to servers located at Kim IL Sung University in Pyongyang.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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