UN Investigating 35 North Korean Military-Funding Cyberattacks

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The investigation is looking to get to the root of the possibility that North Korea sponsored and orchestrated at least 35 different cyberattacks, hitting about 17 countries.

Earlier, the AP and other media outlets said North Korea illegally raised up to $2 billion through such cyber activities targeting financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges in violation of sanctions, citing the same report.

Cryptocurrency theft 'through attacks on both exchanges and users'.

South Africa was one of 17 countries hit by North Korean attackers to raise money for its weapons of mass destruction programmes, the Associated Press reported.

According to the report, the increasingly sophisticated attacks are "low risk but high yield", often requiring not much more than a laptop and internet connection.

According to the South China Morning Post, hackers targeted South Korea the most, with the United Nations investigating 10 attacks. Hackers continuously target and breach computer systems belonging to employees, and then use these systems to make illegal bank transactions and send fake messages, eventually destroying evidence and leaving no trace.

A new more detailed report made by the United Nations shows that the organization is now investigating 35 hacks in 17 countries which might have been ordered by North Korea.

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As well as "quasi-legitimate" mining operations, the report investigated 'crypto-jacking', whereby North Korean hackers infect computers with malware.

It also discovered North Korea's successful evasion of sanctions on coal exports, imports of refined petroleum products and luxury items.

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 malware program is installed onto a mining computer which helps mine cryptocurrencies on the hacker's behalf.

The panel stated that one of South Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bithumb, was targeted on multiple occasions.

An instance was cited in the report where over 5,000 separate transactions were sent to different destinations before eventual conversion, making it hard to track these funds.

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb was reportedly attacked at least four times, leading to a cumulative loss of over $50 million. It said one report analyzed a piece of malware created to mine the cryptocurrency Monero "and send any mined currency to servers located at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang".

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