UN probing 35 North Korean cyberattacks in 17 countries

North Korea

The United Nations is investigating 35 North Korean cyberattacks across 17 countries, according to a report published August 13 by Associated Press.

The preliminary report stated that over $2 billion has been amassed from a hacking spree which targeted financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, predominantly in South Korea.

Attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges and individual holders, where tokens were stolen.

In South Korea, the experts said, North Korean cyber actors shifted focus in 2019 to targeting cryptocurrency exchanges, some repeatedly.

United Nations experts made a point of emphasizing that these kinds of attacks are "low risk and high yield", requiring few resources to enact. Via SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system, "with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence"; 2.

The document to the Security Council provides information on various North Korean attacks and also North Korea's progressive steps to avoid United Nations sanction on coal exports as well as on import of products such as 'refined petroleum and luxury items.' The luxury goods include 'Mercedes Benz S-600 cars.


Cryptocurrency mining 'a source of funds for the professional branch of the military'.

Most recently, ZDNet reported that the US Department of Justice has formally charged a North Korean programmer for the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in addition to several other prominent cyber attacks.

The committee had suggested imposing sanctions across 6 vessels of North Korea because they were avoiding sanctions and illicitly carrying shipping of refining petroleum-based items.

As for North Korea's military cooperation with other countries, the experts said Iran rejected an unnamed country's allegation that two North Korean entities under sanctions maintained offices in Iran - the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation known as KOMID, which is the country's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, and Saeng Pil Company.

In one attack, the hackers managed to take over the ATM network for an entire nation and force 10,000 payments to alleged North Korean operatives. This method involves the use of malware secretly installed on a computer, using the computer to mine digital assets without the knowledge of the owner. The first two attacks (in 2017) each resulted in losses of around $7 million, while the second two attacks (in June 2018 and March 2019) leading to the loss of $31 million and $20 million, respectively.

It added that one report analyzed a piece of malware created to mine Monero and send the digital loot to servers located at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang.

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