North Korea

North Korea Battling International Sanctions By Allegedly Stealing Cryptocurrency

North Korea Accused of Stealing Cryptocurrency

North Korea has been hit extremely hard by US-led political and economic sanctions for quite some time now. With the rise of cryptocurrencies, Kim Jong-un’s regime might now be using it as an economic weapon. Kim’s regime has allegedly put together a group of hackers who go by the name Andariel. Based on reports from South Korea, Andariel infiltrated a South Korean company’s server and mined $25,000 worth of Monero coins. In addition to this, Youbit and Bithumb, South Korean crypto exchanges, have been hacked multiple times. These hacks are believed to have been carried out by North Korea.

US Has Already Accused North Korea

The United States has already pointed the finger at North Korea for carrying out the WannaCry cyber attack. The attack was so powerful that it was able to affect banks, hospitals, and various other organizations worldwide. It has been estimated that the attack led to billions of dollars in losses, according to President Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor. WannaCry affected more than 300,000 servers around the globe.

Those affected by the attack were forced to pay bitcoin as ransom money in order to regain access to their information. This type of activity has caused a state of panic in South Korea. Due to serious concerns about North Korea’s malicious activities, Seoul might be forced to bring down cryptocurrency activity. South Korea’s statements and actions are extremely influential in the crypto-market, and cryptosphere in general. A very significant amount of cryptocurrency trading and activity stems from South Korea.

Bitcoin’s Rise Due to North Korea?

There’s been some speculation that North Korea might have contributed to bitcoin’s rise. Already, the country is said to have a long history of making money from “side-businesses” like drug trafficking and money laundering. Therefore, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Kim’s regime could steal cryptocurrency. However, how could this have led to rise in bitcoin’s value? One theory is that N. Korea is able to contribute to the rise in value of crypto because of the fear surrounding its notorious involvement with nuclear weapons. Therefore, cryptos could be thought of as a safe haven during times of economic distress.

So, if N. Korea has accumulated a lot of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency through illicit activities, it might soon decide to sell off all its “crypto assets” to buy even more weapons. It is very unlikely that bitcoin’s rise can be completely attributed to North Korea. However, it’s plausible that North Korea’s actions could have affected the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Take-Home Message

The Trump Administration might want to tone down its bashful rhetoric towards North Korea. Of course, it could be detrimental to the crypto-market if threats of an imminent nuclear war continue to escalate. It must be noted that the bigger picture here is that the world could enter into greater and greater levels of political and economic uncertainty. Although North Korea should not be excused, sanctions against North Korea seem to be making things worse. N. Korea could very well continue to steal cryptocurrency, and launch more damaging cyber attacks. More thought needs to go into initiating tactful and meaningful dialogue with N. Korea.