North Korean crypto hacks will ‘rise’, experts say

Source: Beebright/Adobe

A “push” in north korean crypto hacks are on the way in 2023, a security vendor has claimed.

South Korean media Silver S reported that Panda Security, a Spanish cybersecurity software company, predicted an “increase in fraudulent activity” and attempts to “steal virtual assets” over the coming year.

The company said hackers in North Korea would seek to “exploit renewed public interest in cryptocurrency” as markets recover from the crypto winter.

Seven-day bitcoin (BTC) price. (Source: CoinMarketCap)

Panda added that “attacks against major crypto exchanges” were also likely in 2023 and “could harm users as well.”

The provider added that Pyongyang would “focus more on illegal cyber activities to raise funds” in “the cryptocurrency market” in 2023.

The outlet noted that crypto has become “an important source of funding for North Korea’s nuclear programs and missile development.” He claimed it was “because of the theft and laundering of cryptocurrencies that [the North] was able to launch 70 ballistic missiles at least 33 times” in 2022 – despite the crippling sanctions it has faced in recent years.

Lim Chul, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Center for Far Eastern Studies, reportedly said:

“[Government organs] presented an ambitious [weapons] plan at a plenary meeting of the North Korean central committee late last year.

To fund the plan, the outlet noted, North Korea will need “foreign currency,” meaning “an increase in illegal cyber activity will be inevitable.”

Another academic asserted that the UN would likely respond with sanctions. Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha Womans University, reportedly said:

“If North Korea steals [more] cryptocurrency, additional penalties will be imposed in each case. Many of these cases will be linked to China.

Park said the UN will have to consider whether it is ready to respond by “imposing sanctions on individuals and companies in China.”

North Korean crypto hacking on the rise?

Panda’s claims come after South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) recently said North Korean hackers had stole about $1.2 billion in “crypto and other virtual assets” over the past five years – with more than “half” of that amount hacked in 2022. The NIS has also predicted an increase in hacks ordered by Pyongyang this year.

Security vendors claim that Pyongyang now operates fake crypto wallets and crypto exchange clones – whose installers contain “Trojan-type” viruses. They claim that these viruses compromise their victims’ PCs, allowing hackers to set up shop and later steal parts.

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