The United Nations experts have said that they are probing a minimum of 35 cyberattack incidents in as many as 17 nations carried out by North Koreans. As per The Associated Press reports, North Koreans are using cyberattacks for raising money illegally for the nuclear program. Moreover, they are also demanding sanctions against ships offering diesel and gasoline to the nation.
The AP had reported in the previous week that North Korea had illegally attained a whopping sum of $2 billion through its highly advanced cyber activities which they carried out against digital currency exchanges as well as financial institutions.
The AP also got its hands on the lengthy report which revealed that it was South Korea that was hit the hardest with these attacks. The neighboring nation suffered as many as 10 cyberattacks while India fell victim to 3 such attacks. Chile and Bangladesh were next in line with 2 cyberattacks each.
The report also brought to attention that there are 13 nations which suffered 1 cyberattack. These countries include Poland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Malta, South Africa, Vietnam, Tunisia, Liberia, Guatemala, Slovenia, Gambia, and Nigeria.
As per the experts, the reported cyberattacks are being probed by them as attempted infringements of the UN sanctions which are monitored by the panel. Apart from that, the report has highlighted 3 prime ways in which these North Korean cyber hackers function:
- Attacks through the SWIFT system that is used for money transfers between banks. The hackers access bank employees’ computer system and infrastructure to send out fraudulent messages as well as destroy the evidence.
- Theft of digital currency via attacks on exchanges as well as users.
- Cryptocurrency mining as a fund source for the professional military branch.
The experts also highlight that implementation of these increasingly advanced attacks is high yield and low risk since the hackers simply require an internet connection and a computer or laptop.
The report also included a few North Korean cyberattack examples. One unnamed nation fell victim to hackers who broke into its infrastructure that managed its whole ATM system to install malware, the panel said. This malware then modified the way in which transactions were processed, resulting in 10 thousand forced cash distributions among individuals working on behalf of or for North Korea in merely 5 hours across over 20 countries.
Another instance witnessed by an unnamed nation noted that after one crypto attack in the past year, the stolen funds were transferred via a minimum of 5K separate transactions. These funds were then routed further to multiple nations before being eventually converted into a government recognized legal money. The entire process made it extremely tough to track these funds.
Experts also pointed out that North Korean cyber attackers shifted their focus on crypto exchanges in 2019 in South Korea and targeted some exchanges repeatedly. For instance, Bithumb became a victim of such attacks at least 4 times.
For those wondering, Bithumb is a South Korean crypto exchange which finds its place in the list of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges. The panel stated that the exchange suffered two attacks in 2017, one in February and other in July. Each attack caused a loss of around 7 million dollars. Another attack was carried out in June 2018, resulting in the loss of 31 million dollars. The exchange witnessed the 4th attack in March this year, which caused a loss of worth 20 million dollars.