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South Korean Academic: We Must Block North from Hacking Crypto

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A South Korean academic has claimed that Seoul must take steps to stop Pyongyang from hacking crypto targets south of the demilitarized zone – as tensions escalate between North Korea and its southern neighbor.

Reports from both South Korea and Japan have repeatedly stated that Pyongyang-based groups like Lazarus have been targeting a range of crypto-related targets in a bid to raise funds.

In an opinion piece for the newspaper Joongang Ilbo, Kim Byung-yeon, the Director of the National Future Strategy Institute at Seoul National University, wrote that “pessimism about North Korea’s denuclearization” efforts was now “boiling over” in South Korea.

Kim urged the government to increase the number of military personnel and public sector workers dedicated to “sanctions monitoring and enforcement.” He wrote that there was a need to “systematically coordinate with private sector companies and financial institutions.” Kim added that Seoul should boost the funding of sanctions-monitoring initiatives.

The academic wrote:

“In particular, it is necessary to reduce the flow of foreign currency into North Korea. We can do this by blocking its mineral exports and preventing cryptocurrency hacking.”

Some claim that hackers based in the North are using social media platforms as tools to launch social engineering attacks and compromise passwords. UN officials have backed such claims, and have accused Pyongyang-based groups like Lazarus of a range of crypto-related hacks.

North Korean Crypto Hackers: Targeting S Korean Exchange Users?

Last year, a Seoul-based security expert told Cryptonews.com that “spear- and voice-phishing” attacks aimed at crypto users and exchange staff were “undoubtedly on the rise” in South Korea, and “likely originated abroad in many instances.”

The expert explained that hackers often preyed on crypto exchange customers, and often call them “claiming to be an official from a bank or a crypto exchange” in a bid to win their trust.

The North appears to have responded to fast-deteriorating relations with Seoul and the United States with another missile launch.

Reuters, quoting the South Korean military, reported that the North had launched a ballistic missile into the sea near the two nations. Sailors said they had “identified debris from an earlier launch as part of a Soviet-era SA-5 surface-to-air missile.”