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Inside North Korea’s evil masterplan to siphon Southeast Asia’s cryptocurrency

Experts warn the threat demands international response

north korea cryptocurrency bitcoin

North Korea might be posturing to attack Southeast Area’s growing cryptocurrency sector, and experts say it demands international response to reduce the threat.

British defense think-tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has warned countries like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam could soon become targets of state-sponsored hackers intent on skirting international economic sanctions, CNBC reports.

“North Korean networks have engaged in fundraising and have evaded trade and financial restrictions through the use of front companies, agents and deceptive financial techniques at banks across the region,” RUSI declared.

“North Korea could cash out its cryptocurrency profits by relying on its extensive overseas financial networks to open and operate accounts at cryptocurrency exchanges in the region,” it continued.

RUSI was especially concerned with the hackers behind the monstrously successful WannaCry ransomware campaign. It says this signalled North Korea‘s interest and ability to exploit the emerging cryptocurrency industry.

In May 2017, WannaCry spread across the internet, infecting upwards of 230,000 machines. When targets were hit, the virus automatically encrypted data and demanded ransoms be paid in Bitcoin, or else it would be deleted altogether.

US authorities later charged and sanctioned a North Korean hacker over his role in the attacks (as well as 2014’s Sony hacking scandal).

They maintain the man worked with Lazarus, the supposedly state-sponsored crew linked to $670 million worth of stolen fiat and cryptocurrency, most of it taken from digital asset exchanges.

North Korea later denied the existence of the alleged hacker, after a government official labelled him a “non-entity,” and refuted any wrongdoing.

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Published April 15, 2019 — 09:56 UTC