Can bitcoin save North Korea from ruin? :


North Korea is increasingly fond of cryptocurrency, a very discreet way to bail out the state coffers. Stifled by economic sanctions, the dictatorship does not hesitate to hack Bitcoin and other virtual currencies to achieve its ends.
Cryptocurrencies could be a lifeline for North Korea? In any case, this is what some experts in these fields fear. Quoted by Reuters, Mun Chong-hyun, an analyst at ESTsecurity, a South Korean cybersecurity company, believes that cryptocurrencies are the best way for North Koreans to earn foreign currency. They have the advantage of being able to be bleached several times and to be difficult to trace.

Cash in

Several elements lead to the belief that North Korea trains its hackers to divert virtual currencies to bring cash into the coffers of the Stalinist regime. And in the sights of hackers Kim Jung-Un, there would not only Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency star, but also a less known, the Monero.

Recently, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology invited foreign experts. Their mission: to give lectures on protocols related to crypto-currencies such as "mining" or blockchain. Response from the North Korean spokesperson: "It is to give future generations more opportunity to work for the development of the country."

The theory of security specialists is clear: the more economic sanctions stifle North Korea, the more the country will turn to virtual currencies to find some fresh air. And for that, what's easier than to turn to its brother-enemy, South Korea, where take place 15% to 25% of world trade of bitcoins.

Five million dollars

The Bitcoin scholarships are regularly the target of computer hacking. If North Korea is just as regularly pointed the finger, the most glaring suspicions go back to a few months. In April 2017, one of Bitcoin's main South Korean platforms, Youbit, was the subject of a cyberattack. The virtual case charged to North Korea amounted to the equivalent of $ 5 million. That is 40% of the assets of Youbit disappeared ...

In September, the US computer security agency, FireEye, released a report saying that North Korea's piracy activities were growing as economic sanctions increased. While the evidence is not irrefutable, there are indications that the Korean dictatorship is suspicious. In particular a software used exclusively by North Korean pirates.

Cryptocurrency miners
A month later, another agency, Recorded Future, was updating a new hacking technique. Now, rather than malicious software, North Koreans have specialized in the installation of "minors" hidden on users' machines.

The "mining" of cryptocurrency is one of the ways to win. Clearly, it is a process that amounts to solving a series of mathematical equations in exchange for which we are given bitcoins. But this is not within the reach of the first comer because the operations are so complex that they require powerful computers. Hence the interest of going to hack servers.


In December 2017, while bitcoin is at its peak, a series of attacks is definitely hurting Youbit, the South Korean platform. Forced to put the key under the door, 17% of its assets have been stolen. This causes a fall of bitcoin. The first for several months.

Monero, new El Dorado
But early in 2018, IT specialists have updated the appetite of North Korean hackers for another currency, the monero. Less known, a little less profitable, but more discreet because even less traceable than bitcoin. Monero is ranked 14th in the cryptocurrency rankings, according to the Coinmarkecap website. Its exchange rate is $ 311 (against more than 11,000 for bitcoin).

The takeoff of the Monero share a year ago is precisely due to the craze of hackers for this virtual currency. The latter, which was worth only $ 10 in January 2017, attracted speculators' attention as it appreciated. Bringing in their wake a myriad of malware to divert it.

Direction Pyongyang
Already in the summer of 2017, a group of hackers had "undermined" the monero via servers without the knowledge of their owner. Estimated value of breakage: $ 24,000.

Today, the suspicions of a massive mining of monero seem to be focused on North Korea. According to a report by Alien Vault, a computer security agency, an application was created in late December to undermine monero via host computers.

So far nothing new since such applications are commonplace (it is the case to say it). But in this case, it would directly redirect funds to ... Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang. One more proof of the craving of the North Korean regime for crypto-currencies.
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