North Korea allegedly made more than $200 million from crypto currency transactions in 2017, a former official of United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) has claimed.
Priscilla Moriuchi, who has served as in charge of cyber security in the Asia-Pacific region at NSA, claimed that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) obtained over 11,000 bitcoins through hacking and mining last year.
Moriuchi, in an interview with Radio Free Asia, said that the value of bitcoins obtained by the North is estimated be over $210 million as of December 2017, when the price of crypto currency reached an all-time high of $ $19,783.
However, since January the value of stolen bitcoins has fallen to $120 million.
Security experts believe that the attacks from the reclusive regime are expected to increase as international political isolation and severe economic sanctions force to discover new ways to make money.
“I would bet that these coins are being turned into something – currency or physical goods – that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme,” Ms. Moriuchi told Vox.com.
The value of bitcoins obtained by the North is estimated be over $210 million as of December 2017
North has already been blamed for some of the world’s worst cyber crimes. In December last year, United States accused the country of being behind the rampant WannaCry ransomware attack, which infected more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries in May.
England’s National Health Service (NHS) was one of the worst affected victims of the international cyber attack, with hackers targeting its 40 trusts across the country to bring the service to a screening halt.
DPRK has also been accused of plundering $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve in March 2015, one of the largest bank heists in history.
In April last year, South Korea had also blamed North Korean hackers to be behind a heist that lost an exchange called YouBit around 4,000 Bitcoins.
South also blames North’s hackers of being involved in the hack of Bithumb, the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and stealing and leaking personal data of more than 30,000 users.
Ms. Moriuchi said DRSK stashed cryptocurrencies worth billions were stolen by DPRK hackers last year and urged the international community to increase regulations on the exchanges of digital currencies.
“That helps create a paper trail we can use to identify North Korean accounts and how North Korea is moving these currencies,” she told Vox.com.