Bitcoin is increasingly seen as a tool in the arsenal of state actors conducting cyber warfare. Last month it was speculated that a ‘cyber war’ between Russia and Ukraine was the underlying cause of the massive Bitcoin ransomware attack which affected banks and energy companies, among others.
Now a new report is pointing to North Korea as a growing source of cyber attacks, this time targeting the cryptocurrency ecosystem itself in an effort to simply steal funds. This perhaps might help explain why the U.S. sees the hacking of Bitcoin exchanges outside its jurisdiction as a national security threat worthy of employing investigators from the Secret Service, Homeland Security and FBI.
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According to a recent report by cybersecurity firm FireEye, North Korean defectors have described a burgeoning cyber-warfare department of 3,000 personnel, largely trained in China and Russia. They stressed that North Korea has a growing fascination with cyber attacks as a cost-effective way to compete against its conventionally superior foes.
Regarding Bitcoin, FireEye said: “Actors are targeting virtual currency service providers such as exchanges and brokerage services based in South Korea. It is not yet clear how North Korean actors are leveraging virtual currencies, although targeting of these services demonstrates definite interest.”
Back in June we reported that NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman went on a peace mission to North Korea sponsored by the community-based cryptocurrency for legalized marijuana – PotCoin. Let’s hope Rodman can next turn to convincing Kim Jong Un to stop hacking after peace is achieved.