A research report that was recently published by a security firm believes that North Korean hackers are responsible for a series of cyber attacks that were conducted against crypto-currency exchanges.
The report believes that these hackers have conducted multiple attempts in breaching South Korea’s cyberinfrastructure and steal the Bitcoin and Ethereum funds of online currency exchange users.
The dollar conversion rate of Ethereum greatly spiked from its previous rate of just $8 per coin last January to about $300 per coin this month.
The value of bitcoin, as well, has also gone up in some cyber exchanges — reaching up to a record-high $5,000 per coin this month.
Because of the recent rise-in-value of these cryptocurrencies, virtual exchanges are starting to become an attractive target for online hackers.
The security research firm claimed that North Korean hackers have been using a cyber-breach method called “spearphishing” against some of the largest online exchange firms in South Korea.
The research firm has noted several suspicious virtual actions that the North Korea has been recently making that links the country to the usage of spear-phishing tactics against these cryptocurrency exchange firms.
According to the report:
“Add to that the ties between North Korean operators and a watering hole compromise of a Bitcoin news site in 2016, as well as at least one instance of usage of a surreptitious cryptocurrency miner, and we begin to see a picture of North Korean interest in cryptocurrencies, an asset class in which Bitcoin alone has increased over 400 percent since the beginning of this year.”
Additionally, the research firm also claimed that the hackers used tax-related phishing schemes and malware to gain access to several virtual-exchange user accounts.
The report stated:
“The spearphishing we have observed in these cases often targets personal email accounts of employees at digital currency exchanges, frequently using tax-themed lures and deploying malware (PEACHPIT and similar variants) linked to North Korean actors suspected to be responsible for intrusions into global banks in 2016.”
The security research firm claimed to have followed about five cyber attacks that were conducted on bitcoin exchanges within the past six months.
According to the report, these targets included the South Korean exchange firm, Yapizon, and two other unnamed companies.
For Yapizon, the report mentioned that four bitcoin wallets were compromised in a breach-event that occurred last April 22.
Additionally, Bithumb — South Korea’s top virtual exchange and the world’s fourth-largest cyber cryptocurrency exchange — was hacked last June.
Also, the country’s leading Ethereum exchange lost over $1 million due to a breach event that occurred just this month.
The report noted that all of the recent cyber attacks that South Korea received started occurring right after the North Korea was given economic sanctions on April 24.
Because of this, analysts are now speculating on some of the possible reasons on why these attacks are primarily targeted towards cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea.
The report ended by saying:
“It should be no surprise that cryptocurrencies, as an emerging asset class, are becoming a target of interest by a regime that operates in many ways like a criminal enterprise. While at present North Korea is somewhat distinctive in both their willingness to engage in financial crime, and their possession of cyber espionage capabilities, the uniqueness of this combination will likely not last long-term as rising cyber powers may see similar potential.”
What about you? Do you think that the North Korea is behind all these claimed cyber attacks?
What responses do you think the international community should give to deal with the ongoing cyber crisis?
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