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Seoul Sanctions North Korea Over Crypto Theft

Seoul Sanctions North Korea Over Crypto Theft

South Korea has imposed sanctions on the North in relation to a number of cyberattacks often resulting in the theft of cryptocurrency. The authorities in Seoul say the regime in Pyongyang is using the digital assets to fund its nuclear and missile development projects.

South Korea Hits North Korean Hackers With First Cybercrime Sanctions

The South Korean government has introduced sanctions in response to cyberattacks allegedly carried out by North Korea to finance its military programs. The measures target four North Korean individuals and seven entities, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul announced Friday.

The sanctions, which are South’s first independently imposed, are aimed at actors associated with North Korea’s main intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is considered responsible for Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare operations.

Among them are the hacking collective Lazarus Group, linked to hundreds of millions of dollars of stolen crypto, and one of its members, Park Jin Hyok, who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list of cybercriminals, said to be behind Wannacry ransomware and other cyberattacks.

These are “not the only targets” under scrutiny, a senior Foreign Ministry official quoted by the Korea Herald emphasized, without providing details. UPI reported that Pyongyang Automation University, believed to be training North Korean hackers, has also been blacklisted.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that these hackers have stolen digital currency worth more than $1.2 billion since 2017. Over half of it came from the attack last March on Ronin, the blockchain network of the online game Axie Infinity.

According to a draft U.N. report prepared by independent sanctions monitors, North Korea stole more crypto assets in 2022 than in any previous year. The document, which is yet to be publicly released, quotes different estimates including an assessment that the virtual cash obtained by hackers working for Pyongyang during the studied period exceeded $1 billion in value.

Do you expect South Korea to expand the sanctions against the North in the future? Tell us in the comments section below.

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