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FBI and Other US Authorities Warn Against North Korean Hackers

FBI and Other US Authorities Warn Against North Korean Hackers

A new release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Treasury Department, the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security highlights the hacking threats from North Korean elements.

According to a recent advisory by the authorities, which serves as a comprehensive resource on DPRK’s cyber activities, North Korean hackers are posing threats to the world with their malicious online behavior. It also recommends measures to mitigate the issue.

The advisory is available as PDF and online and aims to inform and educate the public about the threats they could face because of North Korean hackers, especially when it comes to maintaining the stability of the global financial system.

Growing malicious influence

The advisory details that North Korean hackers increasingly depend on illegal means to generate revenue to fund its ballistic missiles development programs and weapons of mass destruction. The country is facing several economic sanctions.

The country, led by Kim Jong Un, is being forced to rely on alternative systems to generate revenue. They plan to conduct several destructive and disruptive malicious activities online to open up a cash stream. It includes affecting critical infrastructure in the US, targeting various financial institutions and other organizations.

Most North Korean cyber actors have software developers, cryptologists and hackers who are engaged in thefts from financial institutions as well as cryptocurrency exchanges. They also conduct espionage and politically-motivated operations targeting media firms.

With time, their tools and strategies are becoming more sophisticated. Campaigns like money laundering, extortion and cryptojacking have become common means for the hackers to reach their goals.

Damages already done to some firms

The advisory highlights some instances in which North Korean hackers achieved their goals, including an instance where they stole over $250 million from a crypto exchange. This stack of crypto coins was later laundered by two Chinese conduits. By changing hands several times, the hackers are able to hide their tracks as well as the origin and destination of funds.

The advisory suggested that

“governments, industry, civil society, and individuals to take all relevant actions […] to protect themselves from and counter the DPRK cyber threat.”

It focused on raising awareness, implementing best practices for cyber security and exchanging technical information. The advisory also advocates that law enforcement authorities must be notified of malicious activity and Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Counter-Proliferation Financing (CPF) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) be strengthened further.

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