A UN report has outlined the extent of North Korea’s cyberattacks, ransomware and cryptocurrency scams and how they have allowed the autocratic regime to fund its nuclear program.
North Korea’s ailing regime has long been known to engage in these sorts of attacks in order to prop up its finances.
It’s estimated that between 2020 and mid-2021, North Korean hackers secured more than $50m in stolen digital funds.
This has, in turn, enabled North Korea to fund its ballistic missile program, an increasing threat to the safety and peace of Asia and the world, as the country’s missiles’ range has increased, some argue with the backing of China and Russia.
Based on the UN’s findings, North Korea targeted three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe and Asia.
A separate study by Chainalysis argued that in 2021 alone, North Korea may have stolen as much as $400m.
In 2019, the UN similarly reported that North Korea had been able to amass at least $2bn for its weapons of mass destruction using various cyberattacks.
Even though the UN Security Council has prohibited North Korea from carrying out missile tests, the country has been able to continue.
This comes despite crippling economic sanctions and the UN now believes that North Korean hackers have been able to secure sufficient funds through crypto thefts and hacks as the latest data shows.
There is the possibility that other countries are secretly helping the North Korean regime hang by a thread and continue to pose a distraction in the region.
“DPRK demonstrated increased capabilities for rapid deployment, wide mobility (including at sea), and improved resilience of its missile forces”, sanctions monitors stated observing the progress achieved by North Korea over the last year.
China and Russia have tacitly backed the regime, hoping to fuel the North Korean nuclear program and keep the West off its balance.
Meanwhile, North Korea has been able to secure help overseas as well. A US national was arrested for allegedly helping hackers launder money.