Wednesday 17th February 2021
“Bank robber” for Kim Jong Un
US accuses North Korean hackers
Stealing information, looting millions, gaining retaliation: according to the US secret service, North Korea is deploying a whole army of hackers. Three agents are charged with organizing attacks in the United States. Kim Jong Us hackers are less interested in data and more interested in money.
The US Department of Justice has accused three agents of the North Korean secret service of organizing multiple cyber attacks. The three men attacked companies’ computers and tried to steal cryptocurrencies and real currencies worth a total of $ 1.3 billion, the US Department of Justice said. They are also said to have developed virtual systems to circumvent sanctions against North Korea and to secretly raise funds.
The three agents controlled their cyber attacks from locations in North Korea, Russia and China. The US judiciary had already brought charges against one of the three secret service employees, Park Jin Hyok, in a federal court in Los Angeles in 2018. He was accused of hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014. The incident also drew greater attention to North Korea’s hacking potential for the first time. The attack on the film studio involved retaliation for the satirical film “The Interview”, in which Kim was exposed to ridicule.
Country in need of money
According to intelligence agencies, North Korea now has thousands of hackers in action to hack into institutions, companies and scientists in South Korea and around the world. John Demers, who is responsible for national security affairs at the Ministry of Justice, made it clear that illegal hacking activities from North Korea had different goals than those from Russia, China or Iran, which among other things aimed at the theft of intellectual property. “What we see almost exclusively in North Korea is the attempt to raise money through illegal cyber activities,” Demers said. “North Korea’s agents using keyboards instead of guns and stealing digital wallets with cryptocurrency instead of bags of cash have become the world’s leading bank robbers,” Demers said. North Korea is one of the “most sophisticated national cyber actors in the world”.
Given the sanctions and the economic situation, the country needs money. North Korea is internationally isolated because of its nuclear program. The North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un demonstrated new types of missiles at military parades in October and January and expressed his intention to expand his country’s nuclear arsenal. An internal report by the United Nations recently found that North Korea also finances its nuclear weapons program with hacking activities, among other things. These are to be carried out directly by the North Korean secret service.
Pyongyang is also suspected of stealing the equivalent of 67 million euros from the Central Bank of Bangladesh and around 50 million euros from the Taiwanese bank Far Eastern International in 2017. The country was also blamed for the global blackmail cyber attack WannaCry in 2017. North Korea denies all allegations about the cyber attacks.