North Korea develops warheads with profits from crypto cyber-attacks, -UN report

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TL;DR Breakdown

  • A report from the UN reveals North Korea has been responsible for enormous cyberattacks.
  • North Korea is said to have used the money accumulated to develop nuclear weapons.
  • The cyber attacks are targeting cryptocurrency trading platforms and financial institutions.

North Korea is making rapid progress on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), earning millions every year by orchestrating cyberattacks and illegal arms sales, according to a U.N. report made public on Monday.

North Korea has been a continuous threat to the United Nations as per the report in August that reported North Korea has deployed over 6000 hackers across different countries. The report said North Korean diplomats also engage in “coercive fundraising” efforts to pay for the country’s military ventures.

North Korea a cradle of cyber attacks and threats on UN

The report stated that Pyongyang has “raised at least $270 million since 2009,”. The funds were mainly derived from illegal arms sales and cyberattacks. North Korea is believed to have been behind recent cyberattacks including the massive WannaCry ransomware attack seen in May, which infected hundreds of thousands of computer systems worldwide, according to various reports. The attack crippled Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), among other major organizations.

The WannaCry attack was carried out by Pyongyang, according to Symantec Security Response, the cyber security division of tech giant Symantec. “We are aware of reports that the Lazarus group is launching attacks leveraging a recently patched Microsoft zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2017-0199). We believe this activity, which has been covered widely by the security community, is the latest example of the Lazarus group’s interest in using sophisticated social engineering tactics to distribute malware,” Symantec said in a statement.

North Korea makes an estimated $2 billion annually from missile sales, up nearly 30 percent from $1.5 billion in 2014, according to the U.N. report. 

“Their findings reflect North Korea’s continued and persistent violations of U.N. resolutions,” said Hugh Griffiths, coordinator of the panel of experts who produced the report and arms trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has accelerated his country’s WMD programs in recent years, conducting dozens of missile launches and three nuclear tests. Pyongyang is believed to possess an arsenal of between 20 and 60 missiles, including the intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, which could potentially hit targets in Japan and South Korea. The North is also believed to possess several types of chemical weapons, including the deadly nerve agent VX. North Korea gets funds from cyber attacks and uses the funds in the making of nuclear weapons according to the report by the UN released

It also finds that the North has launched a “significant number” of cyberattacks last month, evading almost $400 million worth of crypto. The cyber attackers are targeting digital assets, financial institutions, and cryptocurrency trading platforms as a source of revenue. The cyber attackers are claimed to steal more than $50 million in the period between 2020 and mid 20221 from three cryptocurrency exchange platforms in Northern America, Asia, and Europe.

North Korea’s WMDs include cyberattacks and illegal arms sales. North makes about $2 billion from missile sales, up nearly 30% from $1.5 billion in 2014 as reported by the U.N. report according to Hugh Griffiths who is an arm trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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