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Why North Korean Actors May Be Targeting Cryptocurrencies

FireEye links North Korean cyberthieves to a recent spate of spearphishing attacks against South Korea.

North Korean cybercriminals may increasingly steal Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, following the sanctions imposed Monday by the United Nations Security Council over North Korea's persistent nuclear testing, according to a FireEye blog post.

The sanctions, which include capping North Korea's oil imports and banning the country's profitable textile export business, may fuel even more spearphishing attacks against South Korea's cryptocurrency exchanges and other nations' exchanges, FireEye asserts, as North Korean actors seek to fund the government's activities and the pocketbooks of the country's elite.

Last year, FireEye says it noticed North Korean actors shifting their focus from cyber espionage to crimes against traditional banks and financial institutions around the globe. That shift was likely the result of North Korean actors trying to raise funds for government's activities, according to FireEye.

But beginning in May, the security firm says it observed at least three incidents where North Korean actors targeted South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The cyberthieves attacked the personal email accounts of employees at the exchanges, and often used bogus tax-related messages as the lure, according to FireEye. The attacks used malware called PEACHPIT, which FireEye links to previous malware used by North Korean actors in last year's attacks against global banks and financial institutions.

Read more about the North Korean cryptocurrency attacks here.

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Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2017 | 1:17:38 PM
Re: Sanctions
I think it says a lot about the seriousness of the global situation that China has agreed to adhere to such sanctions against its own economic interest.

Except *maybe* NoKo itself, NOBODY wants war here.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/15/2017 | 4:57:17 AM
Thank you for the article. It's time to agree on a complete cessation of attacks
User Rank: Ninja
9/13/2017 | 9:16:08 AM
Re: Sanctions
Don't think North Korea has to 'adhere" per se --- it is the rest of the world, inclusive of China, that has to adhere to the sanctions.  NKor wants to business with friends (not enemies) so their door is open to whomeve wants to buy their jun...k, eh, stuff and pay a good bit of money for it.  
User Rank: Ninja
9/13/2017 | 8:35:00 AM
Re: Sanctions
Thanks for the timeline. I concur with your prediction. Similar to the US-China treaty to stop hacking each other. It's hard to stop an actively utilized process.
User Rank: Strategist
9/13/2017 | 7:36:49 AM
Re: Sanctions
It hasn't even been 2 full days since the UNSC passed them.  Its a bit early to tell.  Prediction: they won't.
User Rank: Ninja
9/13/2017 | 7:25:51 AM
To the best of the UN's knowledge has North Korea been adhering to the sanctions placed on oil and textiles?
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