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Cryptocurrency Hacks Traced Back to North Korean Hackers

December 20, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

While the cryptocurrency explosion is a continuing issue already in progress—and may or may not be a massive bubble about to burst all over investors—one thing has become clear. Word from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in South Korea makes it clear that recent cryptocurrency hacks that took $6.99 million US in tokens of various types this year could be traced back to North Korea.

The word from the NIS, as relayed to Reuters, says that not only did North Korean hackers manage to land the electronic dosh in question, but they were also responsible for the Bithumb leak that saw 36,000 accounts get their personal information sacked.

Word further noted that the methods involved in the attacks were similar to the attacks staged on both Sony Pictures and the Bank of Bangladesh, focused around a kind of malware. A similar sort of malware was also seen in emails involved in an attack stopped by the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA).

The reasoning behind this—based on word from Fireeye’s Luke McNamara, who serves as senior cyber threat intelligence analyst therein—is likely due to the massive array of sanctions blocking North Korea from carrying out a lot of business on the international stage. Cryptocurrency exchange hacks are pulling in some hefty sums, and without demanding much in the way of investment.

Given that three attacks took place directly on South Korean exchanges just this year alone—though there’s no proof these were North Korean in origin—it’s clear that exchanges are representing fat prizes for ambitious hackers.

With cryptocurrency exploding in value—bitcoin alone has been a major success story this year—and an unclear stopping point ahead, such hacking operations may continue on in earnest. After all, we may well be looking at a technology that not only addresses the mobile payments issue, but also offers some hope in the midst of automation. When we face a future where robots have most of the jobs, perhaps our cryptocurrency mining efforts will sustain us.

Whether it’s the future, merely part of it, or a novelty on par with Dutch tulips, it’s clear that cryptocurrency will be around in the short term if nothing else, and make not only for a potential new mobile payments solution, but also a serious new target for hackers.