Forex in this article
• North Korea worries with missile tests
• Lazarus hacker group targets cryptocurrencies
• Stolen cryptocurrencies flow into the nuclear weapons program
In early October, Pyongyang let an intermediate-range missile fly over the Japanese archipelago for the first time in five years, even though UN resolutions actually prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles of any range, which, depending on the design, could also carry a nuclear warhead. After all, this raised concern in the region just days after North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test a few days after it last flew such a missile over Japan in 2017. Now there are fears that the country could conduct a nuclear test for the first time since 2017 in over the next few weeks.
Extensive sanctions were imposed on North Korea years ago due to its aggressive behavior. Among other things, an arms embargo imposed by the Security Council prohibits the import of heavy weapons and rocket technology, but industrial plants, machinery, vehicles and metals can also be found on the embargo lists. In addition, an embargo on luxury products is aimed at the leadership around dictator Kim Jong-un.
It is true that Russia and China are undermining trade restrictions because they fear regime change in Pyongyang and subsequent growing American influence in North Korea. But after Kim Jong-un conducted a series of highly provocative nuclear and missile tests, even these two states took a harder line for a time. So the question arises, where does the People’s Republic get the money for its nuclear weapons program?
It has been suspected for some time that North Korean hackers are stealing billions of dollars in cryptocurrencies and that this money is being used to finance the nuclear weapons program. According to Chainalysis data, North Korea captured over $840 million worth of cryptocurrencies in the first half of 2022 alone. According to a report by CNET, Anna Neuberger, the Biden administration’s deputy national security adviser, estimates that a third of the stolen cryptocurrencies go to the nuclear weapons program.
“Cryptocurrencies are undoubtedly essential for North Korea now,” Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst, is quoted as saying. North Korea is now a crypto superpower by any standard.
Hackers are targeting crypto companies
The focus is on the hackers from the Lazarus group, which is said to be linked to a North Korean foreign intelligence service. A report from “CNET” reveals how the hackers proceed: according to this, a large accumulation of dubious applications at Elliott Garlock and other American recruiters raises the suspicion that North Korean hackers are trying to break into crypto companies using prepared application documents.
Another common method used by Lazarus is said to be phishing attacks. According to Cointelegraph, the Japanese police, who hold Lazarus responsible for several crypto-cyberattacks that have taken place over the years, are warning about this. “This group sends phishing emails to employees, pretending to be from company executives, using social networks with fake accounts and claiming that business transactions are being carried out. The hacking group then uses the malware as a starting point to gain access to the victim’s network,” said Japan’s National Police Agency and Financial Supervisory Authority in a statement in mid-October.
Image Credits: Evlakhov Valeriy / Shutterstock.com, BeeBright / Shutterstock.com