North Korean Hackers Attacked South Korean Exchanges

South Korean National Intelligence Service has traced previous hacking of domestic crypto-currency exchanges back to the North.

According to The Merkle, South Korean newspapers recapped reports by the NIS that claim that North Korean Hackers ere behind a February Bithumb attacks.  The hack, which began after an employee’s PC was compromised, leaked personal details of  some 36,000 user accounts.  The attack supposedly occurred the past February, but Bithumb was not aware of the breach until June. According to reports, the hackers demanded 6bln won ($5.5mln) in exchange for deleting the stolen account information.

The NIS believes that North Korean hackers were also behind a series of attacks in April and September.  In April, Youbit, formerly Yapizon, had its own exchange compromised, and Coinis faced hacking attacks in September.

As a result of these attacks, hackers ran off with a cumulative 7.6bln won ($6.99mln) in cryptocurrencies.  Today, these stolen funds are valued at 90bln won ($82.7mln).  If you can believe it, though, it could have been worse, as the Korean Internet Security Agency thwarted an attempted hack on 10 Korean exchanges back in October.

Justifying their findings, the NIS said that the emails used in the hacks came from North Korean IP addresses.  Additionally, hey discovered that the hackers used the same malware employed for the attacks on Sony Pictures  in 2014 and the Bangladeshi central bank in 2016.

Conspirators, watchdogs, and analysts have long suspected that North Korean hacks have been lurking in cryptocurrency’s shadows.  Some analysts have argued that these attacks are a means  for North Korea to circumvent financial sanctions brought on by its nuclear development.

Back in South Korea, the wake of the attack has exchanges feeling regulatory as well as financial repercussions.  According to Chosun Ilbo, the Korean Communications Commission came down on BTC, the media company that owns Bithumb, with $55,000 worth of fines.  These fines are in direct response to the hackings from earlier this year, as Bithumb “failed to protect the information of users by not encrypting private data,” according to the KCC.

The news of North Korea’s involvement in these attacks follows a month cryptocurrency affairs by the South’s regulatory agencies into cryptocurrency affairs.  This development will no doubt drive officials to hasten their plans for legislation regarding cryptocurrency exchanges and strengthen what little regulatory framework they currently have in place.

KCC Chairman Lee Hyo-seong said:

 “We are seeing continued problems with cryptocurrency speculation and hacking attacks against online exchanges. We will bolster regulations until separate laws for cryptocurrency exchanges are drafted.”

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Written by Brad Chillum

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