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

North Korea

North Korea

Following its report naming North Korea as the brain behind several crypto cyberattacks, the United Nations has now begun an official investigation into the illicit activity.

The investigation is now seeking to treat these reported attacks as direct disregard for stipulated United Nations sanctions.

Global financial regulators will be dismayed that the targeted attacks on crypto exchanges and banks have circumvented market rules on the use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering and funding terrorism and will likely call on crypto exchanges to tighten up their security measures.

The news comes after a list of countries including South Korea, India, Bangladesh, and Chile were reported to have become the victims of malicious cyber attacks originating from North Korea.

North Korea reportedly generated an estimated two billion dollars using widespread and sophisticated cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.

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

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In particular, the UN's report highlighted a crypto-jacking incident in which North Korean hackers are thought to have hijacked South Korean computers to mine Monero and redirect funds to servers at a university in Pyongyang.

The panel recommended sanctions against six North Korean vessels for evading sanctions and illegally carrying out ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products.

As for North Korea's military cooperation with other countries, the experts said Iran rejected an unnamed country's allegation that two North Korean entities under sanctions maintained offices in Iran - the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation known as KOMID, which is the country's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, and Saeng Pil Company.

It added that the hackers used "low risk, high yield" methods, often only needing a laptop computer to carry out their attacks.

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.

The nation's Bithumb cryptocurrency exchange is said to have been hacked at least four times. The first two attacks (in 2017) each resulted in losses of around $7 million, while the second two attacks (in June 2018 and March 2019) leading to the loss of $31 million and $20 million, respectively. It said one report analyzed a piece of malware created to mine the cryptocurrency Monero "and send any mined currency to servers located at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang".

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