North Korean hackers may have been behind the heist of altcoins worth over $530 million from Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, in the end of January 2018, reports Reuters, quoting own sources familiar with a briefing of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. Details, however, have not been revealed.
In a separate article Reuters reports that the South Korean authorities claim North Korea stole from the country’s exchanges cryptocurrencies worth billions of wons and is still trying to hack into its platforms to steal more.
“North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won,” said Kim Byung-kee, a member of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee, but did not disclose further details about this either. He only assured that the authorities are taking measures to prevent this.
This is by far not the first time North Korea is suspected of trying to accumulate hard currencies by meddling with cryptocurrencies, which are mostly anonymous.
US and UK intelligence services, for example, accused the totalitarian state of releasing upon the world the WannaCry computer virus, which was demanding ransom in Bitcoins in order to decrypt the victim’s hard drive. It is also suspected that it regularly hacks websites and installs in them malware that unbeknownst to its owners or visitors, uses the visitors’ hardware to mine Monero, which is a highly anonymous cryptocurrency. North Korea was also suspected of being behind the hack of the South Korean exchange Youbit, which filed for bankruptcy after a hack and theft from its hot wallet last December.
It is believed that North Korea has some 1,700 state-sponsored hackers further aided by a supporting staff of 5,000 individuals.