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FireEye: Kim Jong-un Using Bitcoin to Launder Money as Sanctions Tighten on North Korea

Abstract photo of FINTECH connection over the Part of earth with network line on the star and Milky Way background, Elements of this image furnished by NASA.Showing the cryptocurrency or digital money

When it comes to Bitcoin, the idea of it being used for money laundering is far from foreign. In fact, many criminals have been doing it for years. Now, it’s Kim Jong-un’s turn.

As North Korea faces more and more sanctions to its penchant of playing with nukes and missiles, Kim is reportedly looking into Bitcoin to launder some money.

According to a report from security firm FireEye, hackers from Jong-un’s regime have been building up their attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea and other related sites.

They have even been attacking English-language Bitcoin news websites and collected ransoms from people infected with WannaCry, the ransomware with worm capabilities unleashed earlier this year.

As the prices of cryptocurrencies keep rising, with Bitcoin even hitting the $5,000 mark before crashing back down again, Kim sees it as an opportunity to raise funds and launder money.

Security experts believe this interest in cryptocurrencies in North Korea will increase as international sanctions tighten.

Luke McNamara, FireEye security researcher and author of the report, notes that the imposed sanctions are seen as a direct drive behind North Korea’s attacks seeking to leverage Bitcoin.

FireEye has thus far managed to confirm North Korea as the source of attacks behind at least three Bitcoin exchanges in South Korea.

“As more money goes into cryptocurrency exchanges and more people buy Bitcoin and Ethereum, exchanges become larger targets for this group,” McNamara points out.

Despite the country having limited to no access to the global Internet, government officials in North Korea are enjoying more freedoms. Furthermore, the country is known to have a rather powerful army of hackers at its disposal with multiple attacks being tied to it over the years.

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