North Korea Crypto Hacks Motivated by US Sanctions

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US intelligence have apparently blamed economic sanctions enforced by the US on North Korea as the primary motivations behind the cryptocurrency-related cybercrimes blamed on North Korean hackers, as reported by local English daily Korea Herald.

Authorities from the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) reportedly said on Voice of America that the cryptojacking and exchange hacks have been carried out by North Korea to circumvent the sanctions that prevent the country from developing its economy properly. They were at a conference hosted by Aspen Institute, a civil liberties think tank, and blamed North Korean hackers for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, the Bangladesh bank robbery in 2016 and the WannaCry ransomware events of 2017.

FBI cyber readiness, outreach and intelligence branch deputy assistant director, Tonya Ugoretz, was quoted:

“Sanctions are having an economic impact, so cyber operations are a means to make money, whether it’s through cryptocurrency mining or bank theft.”

Erin Joe, director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center under the US Director of National Intelligence, revealed that US intelligence bodies were cooperating to prevent Borth Korea crypto hacks, which were considered a new type of crime:

“There is a huge effort in the FBI, and also several other entities across government, looking at ways to stop malicious activity (surrounding) cryptocurrency… “It’s relatively a new thing, and it comes with a variety of issues that we need to learn more about and figure out so we can stop malicious behavior related to cryptocurrency and currency going to places where it should not or it’s not supposed to.”

The conference, themed ‘The Challenge of Deterrence in Cyberspace’, had also brought to discussion cyber threats from traditional political opponents of the US, including China, Iran and Russia.


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