Independent monitors focused on sanctions have disclosed that cyber operatives affiliated with North Korea have persisted in targeting entities within the cryptocurrency sector. The information gleaned from their investigation is set to be incorporated into an upcoming United Nations report, shedding light on Pyongyang’s relentless advancement of its nuclear and arms initiatives.
The freshly compiled report, tailored for scrutiny by a U.N. Security Council panel, underscores that North Korea remained steadfast in its efforts to manufacture nuclear fissile material and forge ahead with its arsenal of nuclear weaponry during the year 2023. The authors of the report, who routinely furnish their findings to the U.N. biannually, have also determined that North Korea maintained its ability to circumvent imposed sanctions designed to curtail financial support for its nuclear and ballistic missile ventures.
North Korea has previously faced allegations of orchestrating cyber intrusions to secure funds for these undertakings, with the year 2022 marking a historical peak in the alleged amount of money — an estimated sum of $1.7 billion — pilfered by hackers purportedly linked to the Pyongyang regime.
In an occurrence disclosed in April, the United States implicated North Korean hackers in the theft of substantial sums of cryptocurrency associated with the popular online game Axie Infinity. Specifically, digital assets nearing a value of $615 million were reported stolen in March 2022 from the blockchain network Ronin, which facilitates cryptocurrency transfers in and out of the game, in
In their most recent assessment, the monitors underscored the ongoing utilization of increasingly intricate cyber strategies by the hackers believed to operate under North Korea’s primary foreign intelligence arm, the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB). The monitors additionally noted the specific targeting of entities in the health, crypto, energy and defense sectors. The executive summary of the report emphasized the continued interaction of North Korea with the global financial system, coupled with their engagement in unlawful financial activities.
Since 2006, North Korea has remained subject to a series of U.N. sanctions in response to its nuclear and arms endeavors. However, the monitors assert that the regime has persistently managed to sidestep these measures by clandestinely importing refined petroleum and exporting coal. Additionally, they disclosed the initiation of an inquiry into alleged exports of ammunition by North Korea.
Recent developments have created a notable divergence in the approach toward North Korea. While previous actions aimed at imposing sanctions have been characterized by unanimous support, recent deliberations within the Security Council have revealed an impasse. Russia and China, advocating for a relaxation of measures, are now at odds with those pushing for sustained pressure, hoping to coax the DPRK back to the negotiating table for denuclearization talks.
Given these growing threats presented by state-sponsored hackers, crypto companies such as HIVE Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: HIVE) (TSX.V: HIVE) need to keep improving their cybersecurity protocols so that any preventable threats can be thwarted.
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