US agencies issue comprehensive guidelines against North Korean crypto crimes
The US Treasury, Department of State, Department of Defense and the FBI have issued a guide on cyber assaults allegedly initiated by North Korea. The guidance aims to promote international cooperation against North Korea’s work in cyberspace. It said:
It is vital for the international community, network defenders, and the public to stay vigilant and to work together to mitigate the cyber threat posed by North Korea.
The guidance refers to the alleged involvement of the infamous Lazarus Group in hacking multiple cryptocurrency exchanges. Out of these hacks, Coincheck remains the largest ($500 million) of its kind to date. It also references the infamous WannaCry ransomware that took place in 2017. The authorities attribute North Korea’s interest in crypto and cyberattacks to its desire to fund a nuclear weapons program.
Under the pressure of robust U.S. and UN sanctions, the DPRK has increasingly relied on illicit activities – including cybercrime – to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
The United States has been working hard to sanction members of North Korea’s cyber program, which it collectively refers to as “hidden cobra.” Most famously, these efforts include sanctioning the Lazarus Group and two smaller organizations in September of 2019.
Some countermeasures mentioned in the guidance include the implementation of a strict anti-money-laundering framework for digital currencies and the expulsion of North Korean IT workers. It advises individuals to follow the best cyber practices and communicate with law enforcement.