South East Asia’s Growing Cryptocurrency Industry Faces Threats from North Korea’s Hack Groups

By Victor Ugochukwu April 15, 2019 Off
Hack Groups

Countries in Southeast Asia have continually demonstrated their strong interest in cryptocurrencies which might be facing serious threats from North Korea’s highly sophisticated hacking machinery reports CNBC.

In the report, the British defense and security think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) warns ASEAN nations such as Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. of possible deadlier attacks soon to be carried out by North Korea.

The hermit nation which has been classified as a rogue state by the West and her allies has been under strong international and diplomatic bans for its nuclear ambitions. North Korea has however continued to thrive amidst all these sections through its clandestine cyber-terrorist operations largely targeting corporate entities in the West and others one of which was notably the Ransomeware Wannacry attacks which infected a monumental amount of equipment as much as 230,000 on a global scale by infecting networks, encrypting files and requesting bitcoin payments for owners to regain access to their files or face outright deletion. This was reported by the Defense Department to have been staged by the deadly “Lazarus” group known to have its root in North Korea as a state-sponsored cyber terrorist network. North Korea, however, denied this classifying the indicted hacker as a “non-entity” dissociating themselves

RUSI cited in its report

“North Korea could cash out its cryptocurrency profits by relying on its extensive overseas financial networks to open and operate accounts at cryptocurrency exchanges in the region,”

Still, in the report, David Carlisle an ex-official of the US Treasury department’s office of terrorism and financial intelligence wrote

“North Korea has gone to extremes to raise funds and evade international sanctions, recently expanding these efforts to include the exploitation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin,”

With unrelenting resolve on the part of North Korea in a bid to survive as a state while also keeping its nuclear weapon capability alive, North Korea is willing to do just about anything to keep hope alive.

“As a determined and sophisticated cyber actor in need of financial resources, North Korea is likely to continue to find ways of obtaining and exploiting cryptocurrencies,” they said in their report, “Closing the Gap: Guidance for Countering North Korean Cryptocurrency Activity in Southeast Asia.”

With Southeast Asia’s growth in cryptocurrency activities laden with a “systemic risk” of lack of coordinated regulation by ASEAN member states, they could be facing a new wave of cyber threat and funds jacking from the sophisticated North Korea’s cyber activities.

“North Korean networks have engaged in fundraising and have evaded trade and financial restrictions through the use of front companies, agents and deceptive financial techniques at banks across the region, … Because Southeast Asia is also host to a growing number of cryptocurrency businesses and users, countries in the region could prove vulnerable to North Korea’s cryptocurrency-related activity as well, ”
stated in the report.

With North Korea relying on its extensive overseas financial networks to open and operate accounts at cryptocurrency exchanges in the region, it could cash out its’ cryptocurrency profits to keep its various state-sponsored projects afloat.