- North Korea generated $2bn to build weapons of mass destruction, according to UN confidential report
- The Asian country illegally raised the money by launching Cyber attacks against 17 countries in at least 25 instances
- Countries that suffered the attacks are: South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Chile, Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam
North Korea has generated an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs, according to a report by Reuters citing a confidential UN report.
According to the UN report, North Korea sourced the money through “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.
Legit.ng gathers that UN experts are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries where North Koreans used cyberattacks to illegally raise money for the weapons programs.
The experts said North Korea “used cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income.”
They also used cyberspace to launder the stolen money, the report said.
“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programmes, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars,” the report said.
The experts added that North Korea’s attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allowed it “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”
According to another version of the report by The New York Post, South Korea was hardest hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyberattacks, followed by India with three attacks and Bangladesh and Chile with two each.
Also, 13 countries suffered one attack: Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam.
The experts said they are investigating the reported attacks as attempted violations of UN sanctions, which the panel monitors.
The report cited three main ways that North Korean cyber hackers operate.
One is attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT system used to transfer money between banks, “with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence”.
The other two are, theft of cryptocurrency “through attacks on both exchanges and users”, and “mining of cryptocurrency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military”.
The UN Security Council has unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The Council has banned exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capped imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
Reacting to the development, a US State Department spokeswoman said: “We call upon all responsible states to take action to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct malicious cyber activity, which generates revenue that supports its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”
Recall that US President Donald Trump has met with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un three times, most recently in June when he became the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that Norwegian politicians nominated the President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize following his historic Singapore meeting with Kim Jong-un to discuss nuclear disarmament.
The nomination came from two members of Norway’s Progress Party, which is the third largest political party in the country.
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