North Korean Hackers Charged with Stealing Over $1.3 Billion in Cryptocurrencies and Cash

The U.S. government has charged North Korean programmers with stealing $1.3 billion in crypto and cash

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Three North Korean hackers have been charged with stealing over $1.3 billion worth of cryptocurrencies and cash by federal authorities, according to a press release published by the U.S. Justice Department on Feb. 17.

The indictment unsealed by the U.S. Justice Department states that cryptocurrency firms lost over $110 million to the cybercriminals, with an unnamed Slovenian cryptocurrency company parting with a cool $75 million.

The indictment describes a broad array of criminal cyber activities undertaken by the conspiracy, in the United States and abroad, conducted for revenge or financial gain. The schemes alleged include: … Targeting of hundreds of cryptocurrency companies and the theft of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency, including $75 million from a Slovenian cryptocurrency company in December 2017; $24.9 million from an Indonesian cryptocurrency company in September 2018; and $11.8 million from a financial services company in New York in August 2020 in which the hackers used the malicious CryptoNeuro Trader application as a backdoor.

Apart from the massive theft, the bad actors have been indicted for developing malicious cryptocurrency applications and even a bogus blockchain platform called Marine Chain Token.

World-class robberers

The hackers were able to get access to the computers of their victims with the help of spear-phishing messages:

To hone the spear-phishing messages, the hackers would conduct internet research regarding their intended victims and would send them “test” spear-phishing messages to each other or themselves.

A Canadian-American citizen has already pleaded guilty to aiding the North Korean operatives.

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John Demers, the assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, described the North Korean operatives as “the world’s leading bank robbers”:

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.

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