North Korea accused of stealing Cryptocurrency by hacking computers

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With digital currency on the rise, the situation presents new ways for thieves to steal money. With cryptocurrency’s value being the highest it ever has been and the fact that the crypto market is going to grow even more, hackers would gain a lot by stealing digital currency as values would rise over time.

An attack by hackers occurred in the summer of 2017 where a hacking group called Andariel took control of a South Korean server and used it to mine around $25,000 USD worth of cryptocurrency. The digital coin that was mined was Monero. It is worth noting that the Monero that was mined in the summer was worth $25,000 USD.

Around 70 coins were mined and with the current value of Monero ($371) these stolen coins are now worth around $26,000. North Korea has been suspected to have played a part in this attack.

The South Korean government believes that North Korea is stealing their cryptocurrency as a new means to fund their government. The North Korean government has denied such claims. Kwak Kyoung-ju, the leader of the hack analysis team of the South Korean government-backed Financial Security Institute claims that they’ve been investigating on the hack and the hacker group and it appears the hackers are focused on raising capital.

“Andariel is going after anything that generates cash these days. Dust gathered over time builds a mountain,” says Kwak. It’s suspected that this is not the only time Andariel has tried to mine cryptocurrencies using South Korean servers as there have been attempts in the past as well. Monero seems to be their favorite target. It seems smart to go after a coin like Monero since it’s not a public coin like Bitcoin. Monero is what is known as a ‘private coin’.

Private cryptocurrency is a form of cryptocurrency that makes it impossible to trace transactions. Users’ names are hidden as well thus leaving no hints as to who sent or received the coins. This is beneficial for the hackers and thus means Monero is likely to be more easily laundered than Bitcoin. Monero is also a currency with a bright future which would give great returns to hackers like in this instance Monero’s value grew causing the damage to go from $25,000 to $26,000.

Earlier, reports came in suggesting that North Korea has turned to cryptocurrency as a source of funding their government ever since the international sanctions started because of North Korea’s nuclear policy. Lee Dong-geun, chief analyst at the government-run Korea internet security center in Seoul spoke about this recently: ”North Korean threats meant attacks on the government and national defense, but now they are looming very large over the private sector. They are primarily after information for financial ends.”

Only last month North Korea was accused by the US for having played a part in the WannaCry cyberattack that crippled nearly 300,000 servers worldwide in May. Although North Korea denies any allegations towards them, many fingers have been pointed towards North Korea.

The victims of the WannaCry cyberattack had their computers locked due to the attack and then they had to pay ransom in Bitcoin and this was in May. With Bitcoin having surged massively, whoever received those Bitcoins has benefitted a lot at the expense of thousands of people.

North Korea targeting cryptocurrencies especially Bitcoin is also said to be one of the reasons the South Korean government has recently put in strict laws against Bitcoin trying to reduce its value. However, Monero with its privacy protocols provides a tough challenge against hackers.

Whether North Korea was responsible for these attacks or not, the real message that one ought to take away from this is that cryptocurrency is a dangerous game and is very vulnerable. One must not blindly jump on the bandwagon and must carefully invest knowing the risks involved.

With cryptocurrency exploding in 2017, hacking attacks were bound to happen as they give much better returns than regular currencies with lesser consequences.

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