North Korea could target Southeast Asia’s vulnerable crypto sector, says defense think tank

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“North Korea has gone to extremes to raise funds and evade international sanctions, recently expanding these efforts to include the exploitation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin,” David Carlisle, a former official at the U.S. Treasury department’s office of terrorism and financial intelligence, and Kayla Izenman, a financial crime and terrorist finance expert, wrote in the report.

“As a determined and sophisticated cyber actor in need of financial resources, North Korea is likely to continue to find ways of obtaining and exploiting cryptocurrencies,” they said in their report, “Closing the Gap: Guidance for Countering North Korean Cryptocurrency Activity in Southeast Asia.”

The WannaCry attack “signaled North Korea’s interest in, and ability to exploit, cryptocurrencies,” they said. And its cyber skills, coupled with the constant need for funds amid the squeeze of sanctions, point to the risk of a “sustained security challenge,” they added.

CNBC could not reach North Korea’s foreign ministry for comment on Monday but the country has in the past vehemently denied allegations of cybercrime.

In September, for example, the official Korean Central News Agency carried comments by a foreign ministry official denying involvement in the WannaCry attack, instead calling the United States the “chief culprit responsible for posing security threats in cyberspace.”

Source: CNBC

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