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SIM Swaps, Other Crypto-related Crimes Set to Rise in South Korea, Says SK

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: AdobeStock / acarapi


A South Korean telecommunications giant has claimed that SIM swap-type crypto attacks are on the rise in the country – and has predicted a rise in all crypto-related crime cases in the second half of 2022.

The claims were made by SK Shieldus, part of the SK Group, which owns SK Telecom – one of the nation’s two biggest mobile and internet carriers. SK Shieldus, formerly ADT Caps, is one of the nation’s biggest physical and internet security brands.

Per News1, the company stated that as of January this year, the company had seen evidence of SIM swap attacks taking place – with criminals specifically targeting mobile phone users who have crypto holdings.

The firm added that this trend would likely continue upward in the months ahead, and added that a recent attack on a domestic decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol had seen criminals make off with some USD 1.7 million.

Furthermore, the company added that notorious ransomware groups were carrying out “re-branding” efforts in an attempt to avoid the attention of investigative authorities. SK Shieldus claimed that these “re-branding” drives were a sign that such groups would “become more active.” Some groups, the firm said, were now preparing the “launch” of “a variety of attacks.”

SK Shieldus added that “hacking” attacks on a number of crypto targets would expand in H2, with more DeFi targets already in criminals’ crosshairs.

“We expect more attacks targeting virtual assets [in general],” the firm stated.

It added that lone-wolf hackers were now a dying breed – and that bigger groups were now looking to wove into the space. An executive was quoted as explaining:

“In the past, hackers developed ransomware alone. But now they are systematically hiring malicious code developers. They are prepared to share their income with these developers.”

The firm concluded that companies should keep an eye on the LockBit ransomware gang, which began to step up its activity in September 2019 – when it launched so-called ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operations.

The SK subsidiary stated that its data showed that LockBit is currently up to three times more active than other RaaS groups, including Conti and BlackCat.


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