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Diplomacy, Economics

Sanctions motivated NK cybercrimes: US officials

North Korean officials found ways to bypass international sanctions.


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Updated: May 31, 2019

US intelligence authorities say North Korea carried out cybercrimes such as cryptocurrency mining and bank theft to get around sanctions, according to US broadcaster Voice of America.

Tonya Ugoretz, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber readiness, outreach and intelligence branch, said Wednesday at a conference hosted by private US think tank the Aspen Institute that sanctions had motivated North Korea to carry out the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, the Bangladesh Bank robbery in 2016 and the WannaCry ransomware incident in 2017.

In September last year, the US Justice Department charged a North Korean programmer named Park Jin-hyok in connection with the string of malware attacks.

“Sanctions are having an economic impact, so cyber operations are a means to make money, whether it’s through cryptocurrency mining or bank theft,” Ugoretz was quoted as saying by VOA.

Erin Joe, director of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center under the US Director of National Intelligence, said at the conference that US government agencies were focusing on North Korea’s cryptocurrency hacking, a relatively new form of cybercrime.

“There is a huge effort in the FBI, and also several other entities across government, looking at ways to stop malicious activity (surrounding) cryptocurrency,” Joe was quoted as saying by VOA.

“It’s relatively a new thing, and it comes with a variety of issues that we need to learn more about and figure out so we can stop malicious behavior related to cryptocurrency and currency going to places where it should not or it’s not supposed to.”

Also discussed at the conference, themed “The Challenge of Deterrence in Cyberspace,” were ways to deal with cyber threats from China, Iran and Russia as well as nonstate actors.

 



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