Published: Tue, August 13, 2019

United Nations probing 35 North Korean cyberattacks in 17 countries

United Nations probing 35 North Korean cyberattacks in 17 countries

In Chile, the experts said, North Korean hackers demonstrated "increasing sophistication in social engineering", by using LinkedIn to offer a job to an employee of the Chilean interbank network Redbanc, which connects the ATMs of all the country's banks.

A further 13 countries including Kuwait, Nigeria, Poland, and South Africa were all affected once.

According to the report, one of the ways in which the hackers operate is by launching attacks on both cryptocurrency exchanges and users to take control of cryptocurrency wallets with the aim to steal valuable cryptocurrencies like bitcoins. Via SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system, "with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence"; 2. "Mining of cryptocurrency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military", per the report.

Following revelations that North Korea amassed $2 billion in cryptocurrency for weapons programs, a new report discloses further details.

The Associated Press reported that the experts behind the unpublished report to the UN Security Council have called for increased sanctions - including the blocking of ships which provide petrol and diesel to North Korea.

United Nations experts made a point of emphasizing that these kinds of attacks are "low risk and high yield", requiring few resources to enact.

The investigation is now seeking to treat these reported attacks as direct disregard for stipulated United Nations sanctions.

The committee had suggested imposing sanctions across 6 vessels of North Korea because they were avoiding sanctions and illicitly carrying shipping of refining petroleum-based items.

It's believed the cyberattacks were used to fund North Korea's weapons program.

The panel said South Korea's Bithumb, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, was reportedly attacked at least four times.

The experts noted in the report that implementing North Korea's increasingly sophisticated attacks "is low risk and high yield", and often requires just a laptop computer and internet access. The first two attacks (in 2017) each resulted in losses of around $7 million, while the second two attacks (in June 2018 and March 2019) leading to the loss of $31 million and $20 million, respectively. In one instance, malware mining Monero was sending the proceeds to servers at Kim Il-Sung university in Pyong Yang.

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