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N Korea Crypto Hack Threat ‘Rising Again’ – Experts

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

A South Korean cryptocurrency exchange fended off a series of attempted hacks from North Korea earlier this summer, claims a group of malware analysts.

Source: iStock/BeeBright

Media outlet Newspim quotes Seoul-based cybersecurity group IssueMakersLab as saying North Korean hackers launched attacks on an (unnamed) South Korean exchange on June 1, and then again on June 14, 15, 21 and 25.

The group has hinted that the attacks were particularly sophisticated, and stated that hackers attempted to dupe exchange employees by posing as legitimate representatives of the South Korean financial regulator, the Financial Supervisory Service.

The outlet quotes an IssueMakersLab official as saying, “The number of attack attempts from North Korea on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges had been on the decline for some time, but they are now increasing in frequency again.”

The news comes hot on the heels of an announcement by researchers at cybersecurity companies McAfee and Intezer, who have claimed hackers in the North are currently re-using old malicious code to craft new attacks.

Despite a recent thaw in inter-Korean relations, a number of cybersecurity experts based in South Korea and the United States have claimed the North is still waging a clandestine cyberwar against a number of targets – as the effects of economic sanctions continues to bite.

The North has been blamed for a number of attacks on exchanges in the South – with Seoul-based government agencies most notably accusing Pyongyang of a 2017 raid on industry leader Bithumb.

North Korean hacking attacks are nothing to sneeze at – in fact, last year they forced Youbit, formerly one of Seoul’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, out of business. Striking in the early hours of the morning on December 19, a massive attack on Youbit’s wallets wiped out 17% of the company’s assets, forcing it to immediately file for bankruptcy.

Korea’s Internet and Security Agency (KISA) also blamed North Korean cybercriminals a raid on Bithumb exchange in June of 2018, compromising the accounts of some 36,000 user accounts, as well as a USD 2 million raid on the Coinis platform.