North Korea Accused of Coincheck Heist
According to several news reports, North Korea is suspected to have orchestrated the world’s biggest cryptocurrency heist. The South Korean national spy agency recently informed the country’s parliament that hackers from North Korea might have stolen more than 500 million NEM tokens, estimated to be worth around $534 million. These valuable tokens were snatched from Coincheck, a major Japanese cryptocurrency exchange last month, on January 26th, 2018.
Kim Byung-kee, a member of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence unit, stated that Kim Jung-un’s regime was responsible for sending emails that could potentially hack into crypto-exchanges. After breaking in, he alleged that they might have stolen customers’ private information and cryptocurrency worth billions of won. Although the parliamentarian did not mention which exchanges might have been compromised, he did state that his country’s intelligence agency assumed North Korea was behind the hacks.
US-led sanctions against N. Korea have put immense political and financial pressure on the isolated country. So, this could be one of the ways that its “fighting back”. Notably, South Korea’s intelligence unit didn’t offer any concrete evidence that the pariah state was in fact responsible for the crime. Tara O, an Asia policy specialist from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, alleged that “North Korea continuously seeks ways to bring in hard currency, and one way is to steal or demand payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.”
Numerous Allegations Against North Korea
Another individual, who has chosen to remain anonymous due to security reasons and is aware of the findings of South Korea’s intelligence agency, stated that there’s a “possibility” North Korea could have done it. This same person also pointed out that the cryptocurrency market is an attractive target for the so-called rogue regime because of the large amounts of loosely regulated money flowing into it.
Several other entities have accused Kim Jong-un’s regime of stealing cryptocurrency. For instance, FireEye, a cybersecurity company, has reason to believe that North Korean hackers stole Bitcoin from several crypto-exchanges in South Korea. If you visit the security firm’s official website, then you will find a detailed timeline of when the exchanges were hacked, according to FireEye. One of the ways that these crimes have been carried out is described as follows by the security firm:
“The spearphishing we have observed in these cases often targets personal email accounts of employees at digital currency exchanges, frequently using tax-themed lures and deploying malware (PEACHPIT and similar variants) linked to North Korean actors suspected to be responsible for intrusions into global banks in 2016″.
Investigation of Coincheck Hack Has Just Begun
According to a lawmaker who was present during a meeting of South Korea’s intelligence unit, the spy agency is still in the very early stages of the Coincheck investigation. Currently, the agency is trying to look for any links this new crypto heist might have with similar incidents in the past that are also believed to have been orchestrated by North Korea. In order to conduct a more thorough investigation, international authorities have also joined the probe.
Security experts have accused the North Korean regime of numerous crimes for quite some time now. Additionally, not many countries have had much success in establishing any kind of diplomatic relations, or even any meaningful dialogue with the isolated state. Hopefully, the international community can find a way to effectively communicate with Kim Jung-un and his country. It’s quite possible that the only way to break through to N. Korea is to re-evaluate some of US-led policies and agenda.