Due to ongoing international sanctions imposed on the country, North Korea has been exploring new avenues of income. Cryptocurrency has come to be seen as a good opportunity for the country, with North Korean hackers stealing an estimated $517M in cryptocurrencies in 2017. While North Korean hackers have traditionally targeted cryptocurrency exchanges and businesses, they are increasingly ramping up their efforts against individual users. Kwon Seok-chul, CEO of cybersecurity firm Cuvepia, said, since April 2018, his company had detected more than 30 cases of suspected North Korean hackers attacking individuals holding cryptocurrencies. Kwon added that some cases had probably gone undetected and that the actual number may be well over 100. Hackers will typically send victims an email, which when opened, infects the computer with malicious code that gives them control of the device.
According to Simon Choi, founder of cyber warfare research group IssueMakersLab, North Korean hackers used to target the ‘staff of exchanges, but now they are attacking cryptocurrency users directly.’ This shift in targeted victims is in response to exchanges strengthening their cybersecurity. ‘Direct attacks on exchanges have become harder, so hackers are thinking about alternatively going after individual users with weak security,’ Choi added. (Source: South China Morning Post)