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President is reversing his administration’s decision to slap new sanctions on North Korea and ordering them withdrawn. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump “likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” per the AP . Trump himself addressed the move on Twitter : “It was announced…
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that North Korea is keeping open the possibility of continued talks after Pyongyang’s deputy foreign minister said they might walk from negotiations, criticizing the top US diplomat and national security adviser John Bolton for creating “an atmosphere of hostility.”
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will soon decide whether to continue diplomatic talks and maintain his moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, a senior North Korean official said Friday, adding that the US threw away a golden opportunity at the recent summit between their leaders. Vice Foreign Minister…
A statement issued by the People’s Government of Yiling District, Yichang has revealed that Chinese officials have been the target of a ransomware email attack in recent days.
Chinese Government Officials Face Ransomware Attack
A statement issued by a Chinese provincial government website has announced that the National Network and Information Security Information Center has identified overseas hackers targeting the websites of government departments with emails containing ransomware.
The ransomware was delivered via an email containing the subject line: “You must report to the police at 3:00 pm on March 11!” The emails contain version 5.2 of the Gandcrab malware, which is concealed in an attachment named “03-11-19.rar.”
After running, Gandcrab encrypts the hard disk data of the victim, prompting them to download the Tor browser. The Tor browser then “logs into the attacker’s digital currency payment window and asks the victim to pay the ransom.”
The document states that the attacks have been taking place since March 11. The scale of the attack is not currently known, however a number of hard drives belonging to government officials have been infected.
Hackers Suspected to Have North Korean Affiliation
An anonymous government official has reportedly indicated that he received a notice warning him of the virus, adding that he believes all government departments in China have been issued the warning.
The official stated that he often receives warning notices pertaining to potential cyber attacks, but believes this is the first instance in which the Chinese state has been targeted by hackers demanding ransom in the form of cryptocurrency.
Although the identity and origin of the hackers has yet to be confirmed, one of the malicious emails was sent from the name of “Min, Gap Ryong,” a Korean name that suggests possible affiliation with North Korea.
Do you think that the hackers targeting Chinese government emails with ransom are likely to be affiliated with North Korea? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock
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The U.N. Security Council has heard that North Korea uses cyberattacks and blockchain technology to evade economic sanctions and obtain foreign currency. Through hacking, the reclusive Republic has raked in around $ 670 million in foreign exchange and cryptocurrency, a panel of experts told the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee, ahead of the council’s annual report.
Crypto Exchanges and Financial Institutions Hacked
Pyongyang is reeling from a slew of economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the request of the United States over its nuclear and missile programs. The embargo has crippled North Korea’s coal exports, a major foreign exchange earner.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, which claims to have obtained the panel’s report, the North cyberattacked overseas financial companies from 2015 to 2018, and used blockchain technology to cover its tracks.
Between January 2017 and September 2018, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea successfully hacked cryptocurrency exchanges in Asia at least five times, with losses totaling $ 571 million, the panel estimated. The attacks are understood to have been carried out by a specialized military unit and are now a crucial part of North Korean government policy, the article detailed.
The panel did not name the affected trading platforms but Japanese exchange Coincheck reported in January 2018 the theft of $ 530 million worth of the NEM cryptocurrency during an attack. Another cyberattack in September last year on Zaif, a crypto exchange operating out of Japan, left a financial hole of $ 60 million.
In South Korea, more than 10 million users of e-commerce platform Interpark had their personal information stolen in cyberattacks. Hackers demanded a ransom of $ 2.7 million in exchange for returning the stolen data. The South Korean government believes the attacks were carried out by the North and the U.N. expert panel is convinced they were meant to obtain foreign currency.
Evading Economic Sanctions
In its report, which is due to be submitted formally within days, the U.N. panel explained:
[Cryptocurrencies] provide the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with more ways to evade sanctions, given that they are harder to trace, can be laundered many times and are independent from government regulation.
The experts pointed out that the North Korean government created a pool of illicit funds from hacking since 2016. It recommended that state parties “enhance their ability to facilitate robust information exchange on the cyberattacks by North Korea with other governments and with their own financial institutions,” to detect and prevent the North from circumventing the sanctions.
North Korea also stands accused of using the anonymity of virtual currencies to get around economic sanctions, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. For example, Marine Chain, a Hong Kong-based company, which buys and sells ships using blockchain, is believed to have supplied North Korea with cryptocurrency until it was eventually shut down in September 2018.
What are your thoughts on North Korean cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Nikkei Asian Review.
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US analysts say North Korea appears to have restored normal operations at a long-range rocket launch site it partially dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps. Some experts say North Korea is trying to convey displeasure over the breakdown of a summit last week between leader Kim Jong Un…
An estimated 11 million people in North Korea—over 43% of the population—are undernourished and “chronic food insecurity and malnutrition is widespread,” according to a United Nations report issued Wednesday. The report by Tapan Mishra, the head of the UN office in North Korea, said that “widespread undernutrition threatens…
North Korea has been rapidly rebuilding a rocket launch site it promised to dismantle last year, analysts say. Experts at the Beyond Parallel group say images from March 2 show that activity at the Sohae site, which has been used for satellite launches and missile engine testing, is “consistent with…
North Korea is still using a uranium-enrichment facility at the heart of last week’s summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the United Nations atomic agency said.
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