Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean hackers have stolen around 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets over the past five years, more than half of which in the past five years alone. this year, South Korea’s spy agency said on Thursday.
Experts and officials say North Korea has turned to cryptocurrency hacking and other illegal cyber activities as a much-needed source of foreign currency to support its fragile economy and fund its nuclear program. after harsh UN sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, says North Korea’s ability to steal digital assets is considered the best in the world because of its focus on cybercrime since its inception. United Nations economic sanctions were strengthened in 2017 in response to the country’s nuclear and missile tests. .
UN sanctions imposed in 2016-2017 banned key North Korean exports such as coal, textiles and seafood, and forced member states to repatriate North Korean workers. Tien abroad. Its economy suffered further setbacks after it imposed some of the world’s draconian restrictions on the pandemic.
The NIS says state-sponsored North Korean hackers are estimated to have stolen 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in virtual assets around the world since 2017, including around 800 billion won $626 million) this year alone. It said more than 100 billion won ($78 million) in total came from South Korea.
It said North Korean hackers are expected to launch more cyberattacks next year to steal advanced South Korean technologies and confidential information on foreign policy and national security. Korean.
Earlier this month, senior diplomats from the US, South Korea and Japan agreed to step up efforts to curb North Korea’s illegal cyber activities. In February, a UN panel of experts said North Korea is continuing to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from financial institutions, companies and cryptocurrency exchanges.
Despite the economic difficulties, North Korea has made a record number of or missile test This year, what some experts see as an attempt to modernize the arsenal and increase leverage in future negotiations with adversaries to win sanctions and other concessions.