Friday, 06 December, 2019


U.N. Investigating 35 North Korean Cyberattacks in 17 Countries

UN Report South Korea Hardest Hit By North Korean Cyber Attacks U.N. Investigating 35 North Korean Cyberattacks in 17 Countries
Bennie Garza | 13 August, 2019, 22:59

United Nations experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for its nuclear program - and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

The Associated Press reported that the experts behind the unpublished report to the UN Security Council have called for increased sanctions - including the blocking of ships which provide petrol and diesel to North Korea.

A number of cryptocurrency exchanges in the region have been attacked this year including Binance, Tokyo based BitPoint, and Singapore based Bitrue.

According to the report, the increasingly sophisticated attacks are "low risk but high yield", often requiring not much more than a laptop and internet connection.

South Korea has been one of the country's main targets in such campaigns and this report only further confirms the fact.

To achieve this, bank employee computers and infrastructure were accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence.

The reported attacks are being investigated and considered as attempts to violate United Nations sanctions. A malware program is installed onto a mining computer which helps mine cryptocurrencies on the hacker's behalf.

North Korean hackers have also been sneaking mining scripts onto foreign computers to surreptitiously mine cryptocurrency for some time.

Regarding the North Korean cyber-hacks incidence, the committee mentioned attackers in a specific nation accessed the framework controlling the ATM system fully and deployed malicious code that changed the way transaction functioned.

Due to its proximity, history, and number of crypto exchanges, South Korea was the country that suffered the most hacks, with at least 10 attacks recorded so far.

Among the details on the institutions hit by the attacks, South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb was one of the worst hit, being attacked at least four times: two attacks in February 2017 and July 2017 each saw losses of about $7 million; in June 2018 the exchange lost $31 million and an attack in March 2019 led to a $20 million loss.

An instance was cited in the report where over 5,000 separate transactions were sent to different destinations before eventual conversion, making it hard to track these funds. It identified one instance where malware was used to mine Monero and send the mined tokens to servers at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.

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