US treasury imposes penalties on North Korean hacking groups

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The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has set penalties on multiple North Korean hacking groups.

These include the “Lazarus,” “Bluenoroff,” and “Andariel.” These groups allegedly work under the North Korean government. Reportedly these groups have been involved in hacking several various financial institutions to fund the country’s nuclear program.

The OFAC has taken the step as an attempt to stop the operations of the North Korean intelligence bureau. Reportedly this agency known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) manages the country’s hacking activities. Moreover, it supervises the country’s exchange of firearms and other weapons like ballistic missiles.

Sources report that these hackers have been attacking cryptocurrency exchanges, global shipping companies, and other financial institutions across the globe. Through these attacks, the groups have amassed millions of dollars that the country is using to fuel its nuclear weapons and missiles program.

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence stated the government would continue to put sanctions on North Korea. He also said the Treasury would be working with various international agencies to improve the security of financial networks.

North Korean Hacking Groups

The Lazarus Group that reportedly came into being sometime in 2007 is the leader in the country’s hacking activities group.

Allegedly the group orchestrated the WannaCry 2.0 malware attack in December 2017. The attack caused more three hundred thousand computers to shut down around the world. These included the entire National Health Service of the United Kingdom among various others.

In October last year, a report by Group-IB stated that the hacktivist had amassed more than half a million dollars ($571k) through various attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges. Furthermore, the Treasury Department reported that Bluenoroff and Andariel were Lazarus’ subsidiaries. All of these groups were created to counter the US sanction on North Korea while also earning fund for the nuclear weapons program.

Ahmad Asghar

Ahmad Asghar

A first generation gamer at heart and tech buff by nature, have been involved in the tech sector for better part of a decade. With that insight and knowledge, he now covers blockchain, cryptocurrency and everything fintech so others can make sense of the industry.

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