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.
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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.
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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.