North Korea has once again received criticism for its claimed involvement in a number of high-value cyberattacks. Experts reporting to the United Nations Security Council have indicated that stealing cryptocurrencies is part of the policies formulated by the North Korean government.
As per a report from the panel of experts, North Korea is not only stealing cryptocurrencies but also foreign currencies in a bid to reduce the pain of economic sanctions. The report records that North Korea has stolen cryptocurrencies and foreign currencies worth close to 700 million U.S dollars.
According to Nikkei Asian Review:
The government [of North Korea] has stolen money through cyberattacks, creating a pool of illicit funds that has grown since 2016…The attacks are believed to be conducted by a specialized corps within the North Korean military and are now an important part of the North Korean government policy.
To stop North Korea from stealing cryptocurrencies and using the blockchain technology to cover its tracks and evade sanctions, the panel of experts recommended that a “robust information exchange on the cyberattacks” be adopted by member states.
The experts continued to reveal that North Korean activities geared towards stealing cryptocurrencies have been active since 2015 with the North targeting both cryptocurrency platforms and traditional financial institutions abroad.
North Korea was slapped with economic sanctions due to its missile and nuclear programs. The sanctions capped their coal exports greatly reducing their interaction with international markets hence closing their main source of foreign exchange.
South Korea has also blamed the North for stealing cryptocurrencies from crypto exchanges in 2017. The findings by the U.N panel of experts agree with a separate research done by Group-IB, a cybersecurity vendor, in 2018.
Last month the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, met with the United States president, Donald Trump, to try and reach an agreement for the sanctions to be lifted.
Unfortunately, the meeting ended without an agreement since Kim demanded for all U.S sanctions to be lifted but Trump, while appearing on a news conference said, “sometimes you have to walk. This [the meeting with Kim] was just one of those times”
Do you think North Korea will continue stealing cryptocurrencies and foreign currencies to reduce the negative effects of the economic sanctions?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.