North Korean state-sponsored hackers are resorting to cybercrime including a massive bitcoin heist as a part of “BIGGEST GLOBAL STING” to raise desperately needed cash for the regime.
Internet security experts blame North Korean cybercrime group Lazarus for an attack this week on South Korean currency exchange Youbit, which lost 17 per cent of its currency holdings (4,000 bitcoins) and has been forced into bankruptcy.
Hackers broke into the exchange’s “hot wallet”, an online account that pays out bit coin. Though hot wallet offer “greater convenience” but also “put funds at greater risk because they are connected to the internet” compared with safer “cold wallets”.
According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Regime employed 1,700 state-sponsored hackers, backed by more than 5,000 support staff. They are suspected of carrying out a range of attacks, including the “WannaCry” malware attack that affected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world.
As bitcoin values skyrocket, the threat of such cyber attacks has also increased and is predicted to soar in 2018, especially in North Korea which is increasingly isolated by economic sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear efforts.
Andy Norton, director of threat intelligence at Lastline said “bit coin is like a black hole attracting bad actors and dirty money from all around the world. If North Korea is using it to avoid sanctions it could lead to a coordinated response by various governments to shut down access to those funds locked in bitcoin.”
The Youbit hack is the latest security breach to hit bitcoin and other cryptocurrency exchanges.
On Tuesday, the price of bitcoin fell from close to $19,000 to around $16,300 after news of the security breach broke.