Money North Korea is dodging sanctions with a secret bitcoin stash

12:58  13 september  2017
12:58  13 september  2017 Source:   Bloomberg

Trudeau condemns North Korean missile tests

  Trudeau condemns North Korean missile tests Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned North Korea's latest missile testing and is urging the United Nations to take further steps to contain the country's nuclear proliferation efforts. Trudeau issued a statement Sunday that says North Korea's "aggressive" missile testing program" threatens the safety and security of its neighbours and the international community. The statement calls on the UN Security Council to take further decisive action to effectively constrain North Korea's proliferation efforts.

N. Korean Hackers Step Up Bitcoin Attacks. North Korea appears to be stepping up efforts to secure bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which could be used to avoid trade restrictions including new sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council.

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North Korea appears to be stepping up efforts to secure bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which could be used to avoid trade restrictions including new sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council.

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  Bitcoin price drops $200 after new ruling from Chinese regulators The price of bitcoin fell sharply after Chinese regulators announced a ban on organizations from raising funds using initial coin offerings (ICOs). ICOs allow start-ups to raise investment by selling new cryptocurrencies, which are similar to bitcoin, in return for cash. However, the People's Bank of China says this practice, which has become popular around the world as well as in China, constitutes illegal fundraising. Despite bitcoin's price falling, some expect this move to be shortlived.

I'm sorry, but a country of 25 million people is " dodging sanctions " with tens of millions of dollars in bitcoins ? That's not really an amount of money to dodge much of anything at all. Per capita statistics are misleading for North Korea .

North Korea says it seeks ‘practical equilibrium’ with U.S. In its first official response to new United Nations sanctions , North Korea said it will accelerate its plans to acquire a nuclear weapon that can strike the U.S. homeland. North Korea Is Dodging Sanctions With a Secret Bitcoin Stash .

Hackers from Kim Jong Un’s regime are increasing their attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea and related sites, according to a new report from security researcher FireEye Inc. They also breached an English-language bitcoin news website and collected bitcoin ransom payments from global victims of the malware WannaCry, according to the researcher.

Kim’s apparent interest in cryptocurrencies comes amid rising prices and popularity. The same factors that have driven their success -- lack of state control and secretiveness -- would make them useful fund raising and money laundering tools for a man threatening to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. With tightening sanctions and usage of cryptocurrencies broadening, security experts say North Korea’s embrace of digital cash will only increase.

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He regularly calls on China to stop North Korea ’s nuclear advancement and said in July it could “easily” end the crisis. North Korea Is Dodging Sanctions With a Secret Bitcoin Stash .

North Korea Is Dodging Sanctions With a Secret Bitcoin Stash . China Is Said to Ban Bitcoin Exchanges While Allowing OTC.

“We definitely see sanctions being a big lever driving this sort of activity,” said Luke McNamara, a researcher at FireEye and author of the new report. “They probably see it as a very low-cost solution to bring in hard cash.”

The 15-member Security Council on Monday approved sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its latest missile and nuclear tests. U.S. officials said the new measures would cut the country’s textile exports by 90 percent, restricting its ability to get hard currency.

So far this year, FireEye has confirmed attacks on at least three South Korean exchanges, including one in May that was successful. Around the same time, local media reported that Seoul-based exchange Yapizon lost more than 3,800 bitcoins (worth about $15 million at current rates) due to theft, although FireEye said there are not clear indications of North Korean involvement.

IOC chief Thomas Bach confident Games will go on in South Korea

  IOC chief Thomas Bach confident Games will go on in South Korea The president of the International Olympic Committee said Friday he remains confident the Winter Games will go on as scheduled in South Korea despite growing tensions on the peninsula, including North Korea’s ballistic missile test this week. At the close of this week’s IOC meetings, Thomas Bach said the committee will continue to appeal for diplomatic solutions to the problems, and that it is monitoring deliberations in the UN Security Council, which on Friday condemned the North Korean test.

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North Korea’s telecommunications ministry didn’t respond to an emailed request for comments. The country’s diplomats and official media have denied the country played any role in cyberattacks, including the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014.

North Korea Hacks Coincide With Bitcoin Rally © Bloomberg North Korea Hacks Coincide With Bitcoin Rally

North Korea operates what South Korea believes is an army of hackers expanding its focus from military espionage to financial theft. The regime’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, which directly reports to Kim Jong Un, handles peacetime cyber operations from espionage to network disruptions and employs an estimated 6,000 officers, according to a 2016 report from the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

In the recent round of attacks, South Korea may have become a target not just due to its proximity to Pyongyang and shared language, but because the country has become one of the busiest trading hubs for cryptocurrencies this year. Seoul-based Bithumb is the world’s biggest exchange for ethereum. In June, it said hackers had stolen customer information from an employee’s computer, without identifying the attackers.

North Korean hackers are trying to steal bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

  North Korean hackers are trying to steal bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies It’s no secret that in recent years, North Korea has stepped up efforts to expand its nuclear weapons stockpile. More quietly, though, it’s been stashing another commodity: bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.  More quietly, though, it’s been stashing another commodity: bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

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"As more money goes into cryptocurrency exchanges and more people buy bitcoin and ethereum, exchanges become larger targets for this group,” said McNamara. He said so far he did not have evidence that Kim Jong Un’s regime has targeted cryptocurrency exchanges outside of South Korea, but did not rule out the possibility in the future.

Besides exchanges, FireEye said an English-language bitcoin news website was breached by North Korea, which would likely allow hackers to identify people visiting the site. It declined to name the website and said it believes North Korea prefers larger targets like exchanges than individual owners of cryptocurrencies.

The firm said previously it had found a connection between Pyongyang and the WannaCry attack from May and June, which affected more than 300,000 computers worldwide. McNamara said he also sees indications North Korean hackers are getting involved in cryptocurrency mining.

A vendor is pictured in a shop in a newly constructed residential complex after its opening ceremony in Ryomyong street in Pyongyang, North Korea April 13, 2017. Take a look inside North Korea's economy

Attacks on the South Korean exchanges were carried out through so-called spear-phishing attacks, or emailing files laced with malware to specific targets. FireEye identified the malware, known as PEACHPIT, and provided examples of documents it was attached to, including one published by Seoul-based Hyundai Research Institute about the state of bitcoin industries. When contacted, the author of the report confirmed he wrote it in 2014, but was unaware that someone was distributing a press release about it this year.

France threatens to skip Olympics over North Korea-U.S. tensions

  France threatens to skip Olympics over North Korea-U.S. tensions France's Winter Olympics team will not travel to the 2018 Games in South Korea if its security cannot be guaranteed, French Sports Minister Laura Flessel said on Thursday, raising the first major doubts by a participating country over the event. Tensions in the region have escalated since reclusive North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3 prompting global condemnation.U.S. President Donald Trump is locked in a stand-off with Pyongyang and has threatened to "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people if the North threatened the United States and its allies, including neighbouring South Korea.

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Nike shoes made this South Korean ex-con a billionaire. How Xi rose to power and what he might do with it. Dimon says JPM trading revenue is poised for a 20 percent decline. North Korea Is Dodging Sanctions With a Secret Bitcoin Stash .

The group behind the hacks, which FireEye identified as TEMP.Hermit, has made a name for itself out of bitcoin theft, including a 2015 attack on South Korea’s nuclear industry. The hackers have also been tied by other security firms to last year’s attack on Samsung Electronics Co.’s corporate messenger app and, most prominently, the breach of Sony Corp.’s film studio, which the FBI blamed on North Korea.

"They’re pretty capable actors in comparison to other North Korean activity we see,” said McNamara. "They’ve been creative in how they use their cyber-espionage capability."

The malware used in bitcoin hacks is linked to the group suspected of attacks on the payment systems of global banks last year, according to FireEye. The FBI is also examining North Korea’s link to the theft of $81 million through the New York Fed last year, Bloomberg Markets reported last month.

FireEye said if the hackers wanted to convert bitcoin or ethereum into dollars or won, they’d likely first exchange them into harder-to-trace cryptocurrencies like Monero and then into fiat currency. A similar technique was used last month to empty the bitcoin wallets related to WannaCry.

“They could compromise an exchange and transfer those bitcoins to other exchanges elsewhere in Asia or exchange them for a more anonymous cryptocurrency,” said McNamara. “There are variety of things they could do to cash out.”


France threatens to withdraw from Winter Olympics .
France threatens to withdraw from Winter OlympicsFrance will not compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang if safety cannot be guaranteed and the state of North Korea's atomic weapons program worsens, Laura Flessel, the country's sports prime minister, said in an interview Thursday on RTL radio.

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