North Korea Suspected to have Raked in more than $200 Million in Bitcoin

Suzette Paulsen

March 5, 2018 5:27 pm

North Korea Suspected to have Raked in more than $200 Million in Bitcoin | Coindelite News
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Cyber threat expert said North Korea might be using Virtual Coin markets to inject Cash into Flagging Economy.

North Korea seems to have collected around $200 million in digital cryptocurrency transactions last year, diminishing the impact stringent international sanctions over its nuclear and missiles programme.

Priscilla Moriuchi, a former US National Security Agency officer, revealed in an interview with Radio Free Asia, the massive haul of an estimated 11,000 Bitcoins.

It would have made $210 million if the authorities had monetized them when the price peaked in mid-December; however, that value has reduced to $120m by January.

It is believed by Ms.Moriuchi, who works for cyber threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, that cryptocurrency was acquired through mining or hacking.

According to financial security experts, North Korea is injecting cash into its hailing economy by using virtual coin markets that are grappling under the burden of severe international transactions.

“I would bet that these coins are being turned into something – currency or physical goods – that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme,” Ms. Moriuchi told Vox.com.

The North Korean regime has already been blamed for some of the intrepid cyber crimes.  In December, the US confirmed that it was behind May’s WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.

Noth Korean hackers are also held responsible for devastating the wealth of the Bank of Bangladesh in 2015, transferring about $81 million into bank accounts in the Philippines.

There is evidence which states that hacker cells probably have operational hubs in different foreign locations. Ms. Moriuchi told the Telegraph in a December interview that Recorded Future was probing whether North Korean hackers were operating out of several countries that included China and India.

In December, suspected hackers from North Korea raided a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange and stole at least $7m worth digital currency forcing a company named You bit into bankruptcy.

It was reported in November that the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was teaching a specialized cryptocurrency course.

Experts have asked customers who deal with cryptocurrency to be alert about the anonymity and lose regulations that are involved with cryptocurrency which offers authorities of countries like North Korea more opportunities to profit from crime.

Jeremy Samide, the cybersecurity expert, mentioned that it is easier to trade within weapons, drugs and illicit goods using cryptocurrencies. North Korea is accused of using the digital money to sell arms and buy oil from Iran and Libya.

Moriuchi believes that the international community must increase regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges.

“That helps create a paper trail we can use to identify North Korean accounts and how North Korea is moving these currencies,” she told Vox.com.