San Francisco, March 2 (IANS) With the US-led sanctions damaging its economy, the North Korean government is using cyberattacks on banks to raise cash, according to US officials, the CNN reported.
A summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended on Thursday with no agreement after Washington refused Pyongyang’s demands for economic sanctions relief.
It is believed that the North Koreans are turning to cybercrime to steal money due to the increasing effectiveness of sanctions.
In just a few years, the North Korean intelligence services have grown capable of stealing large sums through sophisticated methods, Anthony Ferrante, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and White House cybersecurity official, was quoted as saying on Friday.
Unlike hackers from other countries like Russia, Iran or China who focus more on gathering intelligence, the North Korean hackers focus on acquiring cash, added John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the US Department of Justice.
“The North Koreans have quickly become the world’s most advanced and persistent digital bank robbers,” said Ferrante, now Head of Cybersecurity at FTI Consulting, a business advisory firm.
In 2018, the US Justice Department charged a North Korean computer programmer in several cases of cybercrimes over the last four years, including the $81 million Bangladesh Bank heist in 2016, the Sony Pictures hack in 2014 and WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 that infected thousands of computers in hospitals, universities and banks in several countries around the world.
The Department of Justice said that a person named Jin Hyok Park was responsible for the attacks and Park was believed to be a member of North Korea’s military intelligence outfit the Reconnaissance General Bureau as well as a suspected member of Lazarus, a hacking group which has been linked to a string of attacks against everything from banks to government agencies across the world.
However, if North Korea is to be believed the hacker is nothing more than a figment of the US law enforcement’s imagination.
According to a 2018 report from cybersecurity vendor Group-IB, Lazarus was behind 14 hacking attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges since January 2017 — stealing $571 million.