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North Korea accused of raising money by stealing bitcoins in hack attacks


A cybersecurity firm has warned that North Korea is launching hacking attacks to accrue bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as a means of circumventing the stiff sanctions brought against the country by the United Nations, APA reports quoting sputniknews.

"Since May 2017, we have observed North Korean actors target at least three South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges with the suspected intent of stealing funds," read a report from publicly-traded and high-profile cybersecurity firm FireEye.

 

FireEye reports that North Korean leadership may be interested in virtual currencies because they are secure and secretive, allowing them to move money where they want to without facing international banking scrutiny.

 

 

This comes after a new round of UN sanctions that are expected to reduce the DPRK's oil exports by 30 percent and textile exports by 90 percent — a major blow to their economy.

 

"We definitely see sanctions being a big lever driving this sort of activity," said Luke McNamara, a researcher at FireEye and author of the report, to Bloomberg. "They probably see it as a very low-cost solution to bring in hard cash."

 

But there was another factor: "You also have cryptocurrencies appreciating significantly since the beginning of the year. So you see cryptocurrency exchanges, particularly in South Korea, becoming a logical target." Bitcoins have more than quadrupled in value since the beginning of the year, from $963 to $4,222.

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