The US, Japan, and South Korea have expressed deep concerns about North Korea’s “malicious cyber activities,” according to a recent report. The three countries cited the growing threat posed by North Korea’s cyber attacks, which have targeted their financial and government institutions. The report highlights the need for increased cooperation and collaboration among the three nations to develop effective strategies to counter North Korea’s cyber actions.
North Korea’s nuclear program has been a cause of concern for the United States, Japan, and South Korea. They warned that the regime’s ability to finance its weapons program is being supported by its overseas workers, including IT specialists that are engaged in “malicious cyber activities” such as theft and laundering of funds, including cryptocurrencies.
According to crypto analytics firm Chainalysis, North Korean hackers managed to steal a record of $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency in 2021, making it one of the biggest thefts in cryptocurrency history. The stolen funds were used to finance the country’s unlawful weapon of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. Despite the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2397, which mandated the repatriation of overseas North Korean workers by all UN member states, many of these individuals continue to work abroad.
Hacker groups affiliated with North Korea have been notorious for using cryptocurrencies to fund their operations. Cybersecurity firm Mandiant reported in 2021 that North Korean cybercriminals were targeting jobs listed on platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed to plagiarize resumes and other people’s profiles to land remote work at crypto firms. The Lazarus Group, a hacking group believed to be sponsored by the North Korean government, has been responsible for carrying out a number of high-profile cyber attacks against various targets, including banks, governments, and crypto exchanges.
Known for its use of sophisticated techniques in its attacks, including malware and spear-phishing campaigns, Lazarus has been identified by the FBI as the main culprit behind the $100 million hack of Harmony Protocol in June 2022. Additionally, in November 2021, the U.S. Treasury Department revised its sanctions on Tornado Cash, an Ethereum coin mixer, highlighting its role in aiding malicious cyber activities that support North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program.
It is evident that North Korea’s cyber activities have been instrumental in financing its weapons program, and it is crucial that global efforts are made to stifle such activities. The world cannot afford to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s growing nuclear program and its use of cryptocurrencies to fund it.