The fear of using cryptocurrencies in cyber-terrorism seems to be very realistic now after the United States Department of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) sent some crucial information to South Korea. According to reports, the North Korean-based Lazarus hacking group took help from three individuals to convert the stolen cryptocurrencies into fiat.
On 24th April, the OFAC released a detailed report and informed that they have sanctioned three individuals for supporting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK) popularly known as North Korea. In the report, it’s mentioned that these three individuals are responsible for illicit financing and malicious cyber activity. According to the OFAC, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea used stolen cryptocurrency to hire employees in the information technology sector to generate virtual currency. Additionally, the report added that the revenue generated was used to support the regime in developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.
In a statement, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said that the US and our partners are keen to protect the international financial system. Additionally, it will help in preventing its users from North Korea’s attempt to destabilize the finance system.
A few days back, a member of South Korea’s National Police Agency announced its recent findings on the cyber attack by DPRK on nearly 10 million users in 2022. According to reports, the National Police Agency confirmed that the Lazarus Group, a North Korean state-sponsored hacking organization, was behind the cyberattacks on the computers used by 61 organizations in Korea. It also included public institutions and defense industry organizations last November.
For those who are not aware, the DPRK has been very active in promoting its ambitious intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program. It already launched three ICBM missiles this year.
The United States Department of the Treasury in its press release, named three individuals who willfully helped North Korean cyber attackers by providing them with technical and logistics support. The Treasury has accused Wu Huihui, Cheng Hung Men, and Sim Hyon Sop of helping the North Korean-based Lazarus group. Wu Huihui and Cheng Hung Men were charged with providing material support to the cyber attack group. While the third one Sim Hyon was charged with acting for or on behalf of the Korea Kwangson Banking Corp (KKBC).
According to reports, in 2022 the North Korean cyber attackers stole $1.7 billion in the form of virtual currency. The trio’s property has been blocked by the Department of Foreign Asset Control and those who will provide any financial support to these three people will face serious sanctions by OFAC.