US charges North Korean military intelligence officers of stealing $1.3 billion
- US Justice Department charged three officials for hacking
- The North Korean officers stole $1.3 billion in crytpocurrencies and traditional currencies
- They developed a blockchain platform to evade sanctions and secretly raise funds
The US Justice Department accused three North Korean military intelligence officials of stealing $1.3 billion in crytpocurrencies and traditional currencies from banks and other victims in a series of cyberattacks on Wednesday, AFP reported. The department held the three officials responsible for creating malicious cryptocurrency applications, opening backdoors into victims’ computers, hacked into the marketing and trading digital currencies of companies like bitcoin, and developed a blockchain platform to evade sanctions and secretly raise funds.
"North Korea's operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world's leading bank robbers," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in a statement.
In 2018, charges were filed against Parik Jin Hyok against the hack of Sony Pictures, creation of the WannaCry ransomware and the 2016 theft of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh.
The case filed in a federal court in Los Angeles now adds two more defendants, Jon Chang Hyok and Kim Il, alleging that they worked together in the North Korean military intelligence hacking group, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.
Among the cybersecurity community, that body is also known as the Lazarus Group and APT 38.
In addition to the earlier charges, the three officials engaged in operations out of North Korea, Russia and China to attempt to steal $1.3 billion by hacking computers using spearfishing techniques and promoting cryptocurrency applications loaded with malicious software that allowed them to access and empty victims' crypto wallets, the charges said.
They also allegedly hacked into and robbed digital currency exchanges in Slovenia and Indonesia and extorted a New York exchange of $11.8 million.