North Korea, notorious for being accused of hacking, is suspected again to have hacked a number of bitcoin exchanges in South Korea, its hash rival. It had been accused of mining bitcoin illegally in the past in order to flout sanctions.
“The hackers sent 10 emails to 25 workers each at four different bitcoin exchanges, disguising themselves as officials from South Korea public institutions such as the police, prosecution, Seoul city government or Financial Security Institute,” Silicon Angle article says.
Though the method of hacking is reported to be “spear phishing” attack, a situation whereby the hackers pretended to be government officials and servicemen, and targeted exchange workers by sending them emails loaded with malware.
Sterlin Lujan of Bitcoin News quoted a Fire Eye Inc. report that confirmed the attack by tracking North Korea hackers’ activities online. They attacked three different exchanges in South Korea.
Fire Eye Inc. is a publicly listed enterprise cybersecurity company that provides products and services to protect against advanced cyber threats, such as advanced persistent threats and spear phishing
Why North Korea is likely to hack Bitcoin and mining?
North Korea’s defiance to global warning about nuclear ballistic missiles has earned the country sanctions from the United States, and its allies in order to bring North Korea to its knees.
But North Korea is unperturbed by sanctions despite the fact that it would affect it financially in global trading and exchanges.
Since Bitcoin is a digital currency, hacking into bitcoin exchanges become an option for North Korea to circumvent economic sanctions.
Volume of bitcoin trading in South Korea
South Korea is reported to have traded large volume of bitcoin since the adoption of the digital currency. “Volume of bitcoin trading has reached about 15,400 bitcoins,” a business Korea reports.
“Daily Bitcoin trading volume of Korea reached 15,408 Bitcoin (about 65.1 billion won or US$58 million) on September 21. The overall markt share of the Korean won was 5.55%, weighing those of the Chinese yuan (4.97%) and the euro (4.77%). First and second place went to the Japanese yen (49.13%) and the US dollar (32.73%).”
The huge volume of bitcoin trading in South Korea might be the reason it’s an easy target for hackers whether North Korea is responsible or not.