Hackers from North Korea have been making headlines by stealing Bitcoins in the recent past from different cryptocurrency industry companies worldwide.
The North Korean government has been known to use their computer skills and skilled hackers in targeting banks to steal money.
Recently North Korea has changed their focus to compromising cryptocurrency companies.
The hackers have mostly targeted South Korea and also some platforms in Asia and Europe.
The hackers mostly based their attacks on firms and bank employees on compromising their affiliated companies. They are known to obtain credentials and use them to access the company’s systems.
This would then result in a breach that renders Bitcoins lost without a trace. North Korea’s interest in Bitcoins can be traced back to 2013 when the nation seemed to conduct some underground online research through their controlled internet.
The North Korean hackers are working in a hacking group known as Lazarus Group. It is notoriously known to have its links with the North Korean federal administration.
The group’s existence became recognized in 2016 when they attempted to steal up to a billion dollars from the Central Bank of Bangladesh.
The plot to steal the money only half succeeded, though.
In the end, the hackers made away with $80 million dollars, much less than their projected amount.
This is largely attributed to a spelling mistake that made the bankers suspicious.
The whole attempt would have led to the bank losing a lot more money to the hackers behind the attack.
North Korea is a country identified to be the world’s most secretive state. It is mostly known for its military strength and manufacturing of weapons.
Since North Korean citizens are mostly restricted to access information about the rest of the world, the hacking activity is most likely to be state-sponsored.
The North Korean hackers have carried out several Bitcoin-related hacking activities recently.
The price of Bitcoin has risen by a considerable margin within the last year, making it vulnerable to theft. North Korea seems to be having interest in Bitcoins due to its high price and rising popularity.
Bitcoin is also more easily attained than any physical currency and once the system confirms that a transaction is made, it is not possible to refund it.
After obtaining the Bitcoins, the hackers can then convert the funds into more ambiguous cryptocurrency to avoid being traced.
North Korean hackers have attempted to steal South Korean cryptocurrency this year at least three times.
South Korea has become one of the most occupied centres in cryptocurrency trading, making it an attractive target for North Korea’s hacking errands.
Lazarus Group has carried out other cyber attacks, like the famous Sony hack, and targeted other financial institutions.
The team is mostly known to use memory malware attacks, which are invisible in the target systems.
The secretive malware is very hard to spot as it is more of a keylogger software. It works by stealing login credentials and financial data to access the firms’ systems.
North Korea has however denied the allegations of being involved in hacking activities.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is linked to the act of stealing Bitcoins to finance the country’s nuclear arsenal.
Allegations are that the whole initiative is an attempt to earn money for Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship in the wake of strict United Nations-issued sanctions.
Crude oil imports and natural gas liquids are some of the imports banned in a motive to isolate the country.
North Korea is also known for its engagement in illegal activities, like the manufacturing of illicit drugs, human trafficking, as well as counterfeiting currency and goods.
The UN sanctions are seen as a threat to the economy of North Korea. They are resolutions which are raised as a concern of the manufacturing of nuclear weapons by the North Koreans.
The effects of the sanctions are being felt by the whole country’s economy, causing it to be starved of physical currency.
The Bitcoin hacking activity comes a time when the country is in dire need of the money to run all its affairs. The North Korean leader, like his predecessors, controls the state and everything is done to his direct will.
The Lazarus Group is also said to be linked to a recent hack that saw $60 million stolen from a Taiwan bank.
The activity was reported by BAE Systems researchers who claim that the group’s hallmark activities were traced back to them.
The group is said to be operating a factory of malware in order for it to sustain and continue attacking more of its victims. It uses a series of steps that leaves no trace at all.
The group poses a big threat to cryptocurrency traders since it is not predictable.
According to researchers, North Koreans are not stopping anytime soon. The country has developed a sophisticated cyber program which is making away with a lot of money.
There is also a North Korean army made up of more than 6,000 hackers who are determined for improvement. Most North Korean hackers work outside the country.
North Korea’s enhanced hacking capabilities have become a wake-up call to Bitcoin traders, who are advised not to store all their bitcoins in one wallet.
That said, it is not possible to stop all attempts at theft simultaneously. More advanced security measures are required to protect users from hackers in the future.