As the value of bitcoin continues to skyrocket, experts are saying that North Korean hackers are now targeting the digital currency, in order to make a quick profit.
Bitcoin, a new “crypto-currency,” started the year with one bitcoin being worth less than a thousand American dollars, and has been a volatile stock, but has seen a surge in value recently.
So far, North Korea’s attacks on the rising currency have been unsuccessful.
Having recently faced tough economic sanctions after increasingly erratic behavior, the Nation led by dictator Kim Jong-un is alleged to have backed several groups of hackers which have already been linked to stolen bitcoins from South Korea, as well as Europe.
As bitcoin’s value continues to surge, North Korean hackers are taking advantage by targeting exchanges to gain financial profit, experts said on Friday as sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime threaten to impede on economic development.
Bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed this year, especially in the last week when the volatile digital currency hit above $17,000 after the value see-sawed for a few hours. One bitcoin was worth less than $1,000 at the start of the year. The increasing price is not only attractive to investors, but to hackers working for the Hermit Kingdom, Ashley Shen, an independent security researcher, told Sky News.
“We assume one of the reasons why Bitcoin is being attacked is because the price keeps increasing and we think it’s reasonable for hackers [to target],” Shen told Sky News. “Digital currency might be easier to gain than physical currency. So I think it’s reasonable.”
Shen said she and other researchers have been tracking Lazarus, Bluenoroff and Andariel — hacking groups suspected of being backed by North Korea — and attacks done on banks in Europe and South Korea, an ATM company and bitcoin exchange. She told Sky News cyberattacks are usually conducted to gain confidential information, but they have been recently veered toward gaining digital currency.
“Before, when we tracked nation-state attackers, they usually perform cyberattacks which are aimed for confidential data and intelligence,” Shen said. “However, recently we’ve discovered that some of the APT [Advanced Persistent Threat] groups are trying to hack financial institutions like banks and Bitcoin exchanges to gain financial profit.”
The expert said the cyberattacks have been unsuccessful, but believes they will continue because bitcoin’s increasing value makes it “a good investment.”